Notes and Editorial Reviews
Miserere du Trovatore. Réminiscences de Boccanegra. Ave Maria. Hungarian Rhapsody
No. 12. Piano Sonata in b
Gábor Farkas (pn)
WARNER 2564-69284-7 (65:42)
"In case you haven’t noticed, 2011 is the Liszt bicentennial, and there has been a torrent of CDs devoted to his music—piano music, in particular—during the last few months. We’ve come a long way from the days when Liszt’s name was thought to be synonymous with superficial display. Indeed, one thing
I’ve learned over the past several months, while exploring the highways and byways of Liszt’s oeuvre, is that it is virtually impossible to make generalizations about him and his works. There is always something surprising waiting around the next corner.
"Gábor Farkas’s program, weakly titled
An Evening with Liszt
, contains a good assortment of works in various genres. In the two operatic transcriptions, we are reminded about Liszt’s career in Weimar, where he actually conducted the court’s opera theater, as well as about his association with many of the 19th century’s greatest musicians. The
(or “The Bells of Rome”) reminds us of Liszt’s Roman Catholicism and the “trifurcated life” that he lived between Rome, Weimar, and Budapest between 1869 and his death. Liszt’s Hungarian identity (and his sometimes uncomfortable relationship with his motherland) is evoked by the
No. 12. Finally, the Sonata in B Minor, although not really a late work, has the quality of summing up and philosophizing about much of what had gone before in Liszt’s life as a composer, putting it in a fairly neat package, and then tying a bow onto it.
Farkas, who is a Ph.D. student at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, studied with Zoltán Kocsis and Tamás Vásáry, and both of those teachers have contributed a complimentary blurb to this CD’s inlay card. Farkas, who is about 30, seems not to have run the international competition gantlet, and I understand that this is his debut recording. This is Liszt for the thinking man, and as such, it might not appeal to those who are looking for excitement of the more visceral kind. I can definitely hear Vásáry’s influence, and I can also hear Claudio Arrau’s, perhaps even more strongly. Given Hungarian history, it is not at all surprising that Hungarian pianists (think also of Géza Anda and András Schiff) often distance themselves from what sometimes is called the Russian school of playing. And so here we have performances that are grand but never flashy, although there are no shortcomings in technique. Farkas’s playing is anything but percussive, and he aims for a rich, almost orchestral sound, aided by his generous use of the sustaining pedal. There is a maturity here that goes beyond his years—a seriousness that emphasizes that Liszt was an intellectual and a philosopher, not simply a prototype for today’s rock stars, as sometimes has been asserted. Tempos are on the slow side but not stultifying. I will not want to do without more electrifying performances of the sonata (Pletnev, Nissman, Ousset, Lewis, etc.), nor would I want to give up the late Alan Marks’s Nimbus disc of operatic transcriptions, nor [Giovanni] Bellucci’s. Still, there’s a place for Farkas in today’s competitive field, particularly given all the attention lately given to performers such as Lang Lang and Yundi Li."
FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle
Works on This Recording
Sonata for Piano in B minor, S 178 by Franz Liszt
Gabor Farkas (Piano)
Written: 1852-1853; Weimar, Germany
Venue: Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Hungary
Length: 31 Minutes 12 Secs.
Be the first to review this title