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Franz Liszt (CD/DVD) Limited Edition

19 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Limited Edition, July 5, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Khatia Buniatishvili's debut album is devoted to Franz Liszt in whose music she seeks and finds her idea of musical completeness and pianistic perfection. The repertoire places a focus on the Faust theme: Liszt's third Liebestraum was inspired by Goethe's Faust and the Mephisto Waltz was inspired by Nikolaus Lenau's Faust poem. The centerpiece of the recording, the Sonata in B Minor, is technically one of the most demanding works ever written for piano and is followed by Liszt's first Mephisto Waltz (The Dance in the Village Inn). La lugubre gondola ends with a whole-tone scale and the note G sharp, leading into the key of the last piece on the recording, Liszt's arrangement of Bach's transfiguring Prelude and Fugue in A Minor.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Liebestraum - Notturno No. 3, S 541/3
  2. Sonata B minor, S 178; I. Lento assai - Allegro energico
  3. Sonata B minor, S 178; II. Andante sostenuto
  4. Sonata B minor, S 178; III. Allegro energico
  5. Mephisto Waltz No. 1, The Dance in the Village Inn, S 514
  6. La lugubre gondola No. 2, S 200/2
  7. Bach/Liszt Prelude and Fugue in A minor / after BWV 543, S 462/1; Prelude
  8. Bach/Liszt Prelude and Fugue in A minor / after BWV 543, S 462/1; Fugue

Disc: 2

  1. Franz Liszt, Sonata B Minor (Short film conceptualised by Khatia Buniatishvili)

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 5, 2011)
  • limited_edition edition
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Limited Edition
  • ASIN: B004UPLPD2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,248 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Daniel J. Rose on July 8, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is some of the most original playing of Liszt that I have ever heard. Like all original playing, it stretches the bar and tests the limits of what the composer has graphically intended. On initial hearing, some of the phrasing, especially when Ms. Buniatishvili (Khatia from here on) launches into some of Liszt's more virtuosic passages, seems overly hasty, like a too-quickly played rubato. However, the whole of it works, because she stretches the lyrical passages with a contrary and great degree of care that just makes sense of it all.

I first heard Khatia by accident on You Tube, where I stumbled upon her performance of the Liszt B Minor Sonata that she gave at the 12th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Israel. There, I believe she took third place behind two second place finishers (no first place was given). Her performance at Rubinstein was clearly flawed, but it just as clearly shows the flashes of genius that you will hear much more fully developed on this beautifully recorded debut CD. Surely, had she played the competition as she plays on this recording, she might well have been the missing first place finisher. Suffice to say, I was sufficiently impressed to look her up on Amazon where I was pleasantly surprised to see she was about to release this CD, which I reserved with some anticipation.

Khatia is also a fine writer, judging from the short essay with which the CD notes begin, and there is an intriguing DVD that I have yet to view (more on that when I do). Curiously, there are no notes I could find on the player herself, other than her own essay, which is much more about the music.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Richard Steiger on December 27, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Katia Buniatishvili is obviously a prodigiously gifted pianist with a highly-individual personality and an extraordinary technique (the speed and accuracy of her playing toward the end of the Mephisto Waltz is almost unbelievable!). Her perforamnces of Liebestraum and the haunting La logubre Gondola are superb. But I do have a few problems elsewhere. At 31 minutes, the piano sonata lingers too much for my taste. I understand Buniatishvili's desire to make every note count, but this work benefits from a tighter, more classical approach. There's really no need to drag out the final chords the way she does. (For impatient listeners, I can assure you she does-eventually-play that last bass note.) For comparison, I went back to the recording by Polina Leschenko, which I lavishly praised a while back. Eschewing Buniatishvili's "mysticism" Leschenko plays the work in under 27 minutes. I found her performance far more convincing. As it happenes, Leschenko also plays the Bach Prelude and Fugue transcription, again faster and with more excitement, paricularly in the fugue, where Buniatishvili's slow, soothing performance suggests New Age music to me. As for the Mephisto Waltz, much as I enjoyed the current performance, Buniatishvili's is no match for Stephen Hough's performance on his recent Recital disc. Hough turns the piece into into a seductive drama. With Buniatishvili it remains a series of pianistc episodes.
Despite the negative comparisons with some of the best Lizst playing I know, this is a superb debut, well worth purchasing. But I don't think it's the work of a fully-mature artist.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J.K. Tapio on September 13, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
(Sorry, I couldn't resist that title.) I first encountered the remarkable talent of Georgian pianist Khatya Buniatishvili last summer when I was able to listen to a concert broadcast live from the Verbier festival, Switzerland, via the BBC Music Magazine's Web page. In that live recital, she played Liszt's Piano sonata in B minor, followed by the Mephisto waltz and other pieces. I had never before heard the great B minor sonata played with such compelling force and authority - I sat transfixed on my seat through the whole concert. In fact, her playing opened up the Liszt sonata for me in a completely new way so that I was able to hear this old pianistic war-horse with new ears.

After that, I just had to get this recording. And it did not disappoint. Although on the first listening it seemed that her playing could not quite match the sheer force and excitement of that live recital (no CD can do that, anyway), after repeated listening I must conclude that on the whole, her interpretation makes perfect sense in almost every aspect of this many-sided masterpiece. She plays the allegro and presto parts with fire and passion, and after those, the calmer sections sound heavenly indeed.

In her intelligent and very personal booklet notes, the pianist makes it clear that she considers the Liszt B minor sonata to be one of the great masterpieces of piano literature, and in my ears, her interpretation, appropriately passionate and tender, does perfect justice to that judgement. I had previously enjoyed performances of this sonata on CD by Yundi Li and Llyr Williams. Admirable as both of those traversals are, it is now this version of Buniatishvili that I regard as my new version of reference.
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