LISZT Complete piano music Vol 51: "Poems" (Goran Filipec)
The latest instalment in Naxos’s series of Liszt’s piano music contains early or otherwise unfamiliar versions of a several quite well-known pieces. What exactly are the differences? Without space to deal with them in detail, a few suggestions must suffice. The second version of the Dante Sonata, called Prolégomènes, a work that Liszt is known to have played and continued to refine during his touring years, contains most of the material of the final version as it appears in the second book of Années de pèlerinage, with little of substance that was finally omitted. By and large, the Prolégomènes feels less spacious, with what seem to be truncated and occasionally abrupt transitions, as well as a few elaborations which were well deleted. The B minor Ballade is essentially the familiar text, yet with a heroic apotheosis. For all its splendour, one has to agree with the composer that the quiet ending of the final version creates the more compelling artwork. And in place of the famous third Consolation, we find an embryonic First Hungarian Rhapsody. All told, these versions offer a fascinating glimpse into Liszt’s creative workshop and the evolution of his musical thought.
The performances of the Croatian pianist Goran Filipec, who has already contributed two volumes to the Naxos Liszt series, are nothing short of superb. A seasoned and perceptive Liszt player, Filipec commands vast technical resources and a shimmering, beautifully expressive sound. His idiomatic grasp is such that, if we didn’t have the final versions of these works, Filipec’s take on the earlier drafts would go a long way towards compensation. With its blend of unusual yet recognisable repertory and first-class pianism, this is a release you won’t want to miss.