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Rediscovered Liszt Recital Original recording remastered

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, April 3, 2001
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It shouldn't take more than a few seconds into the first track, the Liebesträum No. 3, for this disc to hook you. It exhibits masterly playing of the sort we rarely hear these days or even from Bolet's later recordings for Decca/London, when his playing was stolid and inhibited. But this Liebesträum is awash in poetic lyricism of the first order, with marvelous legato playing.

Bolet links every note seamlessly to the next, like a string of beads, an effect reinforced by a pearly, limpid tone. Bolet always refused to subordinate his lyric gifts to mere technical facility, so even pieces other virtuosos turn into barn-burners, like Funérailes and Rhapsodie espagnole, are more measured here, with each note given its full value and the flashier aspects present but secondary to the total picture. The final track, Liszt's dazzling piano arrangement of Wagner's Tannhäuser Overture, is breathtaking, not only because of Bolet's supreme mastery of this devilishly difficult piece, but also because it was recorded in one impromptu take after a formal recording session was over.

The entire contents of this disc, recorded in 1972 and 1973, were buried in RCA's vaults and never released until now. Their discovery and release are something to be grateful for, since they burnish Bolet's posthumous reputation and give enormous pleasure. --Dan Davis

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Product Details

  • Composer: FRANZ LISZT
  • Audio CD (April 3, 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: RCA
  • Run Time: 70 minutes
  • ASIN: B00005AQ2F
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,971 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Ken Moriyasu on April 2, 2003
Format: Audio CD
First of all, it is impossible to describe in words what you hear in music. The more profound the interpretation, the less likely you can explain it in words, but this is my attempt.
Although Bolet released several CDs of Liszt music; most prominently the double CD on Decca in the mid 1980's, I believe this one to be his finest. I am currently an undergraduate piano student, and I have become inspired to play the music of Liszt through hearing great pianists such as Bolet. I am currently playing and learning the Spanish Rhapsody, Tannhauser Overture, Liebestraum No. 3, and Un Sospiro; all of which are featured on this album.
The recordings on this CD are approximately ten years earlier than the one released on the Decca label, the mid 1970's. I believe that Bolet was technically as well as musically in his prime during this period of his life. This assessment is based on a comparison of his recordings from the 1970's vs. the 1980's, as well as the testimony of my longtime piano teacher, who while completing his graduate studies at Juilliard had an opportunity to see Bolet perform at Carnegie Hall in the mid 1970's, although this performance does not correspond with the one released on the "Great Pianists of the 20th Century".
The Un Sospiro recording on this album is one of the best. With Bolet as well as other great pianists, technical proficiency is not an issue in his playing. Looking at strictly the musical aspects, his interpretation of this piece is great. It has an overall mood of melancholy, more than anything, which I think is particularly evident in the closing measures of the piece.
The Spanish Rhapsody and Tannhauser Overture are two unfortunately neglected pieces among the piano literature.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Craig T. Niedzielski on February 27, 2002
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
One must wonder what the lone 3-star reviewer would give Richter's Sofia recital. I mention this particular performance because listening to Bolet here in the Tannhauser Overture gave me a good case of goose bumps, like as I had not experienced since I first heard Richter in his famous Pictures over short wave radio while crossing the Atlantic on a freight ship. The two also merit comparison because of the superlative sound quality now given each (by Philips and RCA, respectively) using the new 24/96 mastering. We truly are living in a golden age of recorded music, with so many great performances now being reissued in stellar sound. This has to be my favorite piano cd of the past year. Bolet was at his peak when this was recorded, and you're not likely to find Liszt of this quality elsewhere. This is a huge performance, and the fact of the Tannhauser being recorded in one take (all 16 ½ minutes!) at the end of a regular session just blows my mind. (According to the notes, Liszt himself once had to rest in the middle of performing it.)
Just when you think you've got enough records, enough great performances, enough emotional and monetary investment, along comes a cd like this and makes this hobby of collecting all worthwhile. Fabulous!
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Zhivago on April 24, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I was not a big Liszt fan, to me, Liszt always seemed too bombastic, and sometimes it seemed too void of any artistic quality in its music. Often, I find my peers working on vitrousic pieces of Liszt while I typically go for Chopin, Schubert or the other Romnatics.

Well this CD has proven me wrong! Wow! I remember first listening to this CD in a library while studying for some stupid AP exam (chemistry ) and 5 seconds into the first piece (Liebestraum Nr. 3) I was hooked and could NOT pay attendtion to the stupid book anymore. I sat there and listened all the way to the 5th track motionlessly before returning to read about acids and bases, and even so I was routinely interrupted by the beautiful music. In fact now days I listen to the CD EVERYDAY, especially the Tannhauser Overature at the very end.

Bolet plays beautifully. From the first Liebestraum Nr. 3, he gives us true meaning of the word "Libebestraum" (or "Dreams of Love" translated) with a very gentle touch but is nevertheless full of "passionato" and "expressivo". The second track (Gnomenreigen), the 7th (Grand Galop chromtaique) and especially the 5th (La campanella) are all "cute" pieces that are great for encores. Un sospiro (track 3) is probably my favourite: it has the qualities of a cantabile but is infused with a passion that is rarely expressed by other pianists. Bolet's techique is flawless and the meleody sings with a rare beauty.

Now onto the centerpiece of the CD, the Tannhauser. Legend has it that this was such a diffcult piece that even Liszt himself when performing had to stop in the middle to rest. It is littered with octives, double octives, diffcult chords and plenty of fast and trill like passages. For Mr. Bolet, he decided to record this in an impromptu after a day of recording.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By brent taylor on April 12, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This is a recording to be treasured and a very long overdue addition to the Bolet discography. Bravo and hats off to RCA once again, for it was they who helped Bolet win the acclaim he truly deserved with the release of his epic 1974 Carnegie Hall recital. Now with this "new" recording, perhaps another generation will discover a wonderful artist who suffered unjust neglect until relatively late in life.
I never dared hope that such a recording would ever surface. (Just what other holdings does RCA have?). A pity more recent recordings do not have such glorious sound. Very little, if any editing was done to these performances; Bolet preferred long takes and great honesty. Better to have a few finger slips than a pallid, careful performance. Bolet manages to keep all the balls bouncing and still keep his own! Also of note is the Rhapsody Espagnole, which Bolet frequently performed live but never commercially recorded--until now. The only extant version came from a live performance at Indiana University in 1972 (Lyra House LHL 1002). This is a must for all those who love truly great piano playing in the tradition of Rachmaninoff, Hofmann, Lhevinne and Godowsky or want to know it. Recommended without any reservations.
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