LISZT Sonata – Brendel
Max Harrison was right, I'm sure, to commend the intelligence of this reading of the B minor Sonata and, especially, the underlying stillness suggested by it in the sotto voce and Andante sostenuto passages. As my own pressing of the LP was not ideally silent here, I'm delighted to listen again in a medium which permits the music to play out its questioning discourses against a silence that seems so pure as to be actually attentive. Emotionally, and technically Brendel's is not so engrossing and involving a reading as Arrau's on LP (cited by MH) which stems from within the mainstream of the nineteenth-century style. Brendel is more the cool appraiser of this persistently absorbing work, whilst the late Sir Clifford Curzon remains teh skilled and sensitive arbiter between the subjective and objective schools of Liszt interpretation in his famous Decca LP recording. In some of the grandioso climaxes, Brendel's piano or his tone seems a shade exiguous, lacking the firmness of Curzon or Arrau's complex splendour. But after the extraordinary stellar quiet of the Sonata's end (extraordinary, that is, in both execution and in reproduction on the Compact Disc) we remain aloft, in this skillfully-developed programme, for St Francis's address to the birds. Nothign exiguous here or in the evocation of the bleak, grey waters of Liszt's Venice where Wagner's winter obsequies are grandly and gloomily anticipated.'