12 Études d'exécution transcendante, La Leggierezza, Rigoletto: Paraphrase de concert

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Franz Liszt was one of the very first musical superstars, standing out from the ranks of 19th-century piano virtuosos. He is also the only one of them whose compositions continue to be widely performed to this day. Liszt’s ambitions were most likely triggered in 1832, when after hearing Niccolò Paganini at a concert, the 21-year-old determined to become as great a virtuoso on the piano as Paganini was on the violin. In this he succeeded brilliantly: his career as a touring pianist lasted only eight years (1839–47), but during that time his tours blazed all over Europe, leaving in their wake admiring, unbelieving audiences, swooning ladies, and broken pianos and hearts. (read more—full sleeve notes)

... a Liszt disc of the most compelling brilliance. It would be hard to imagine a more complete translation of virtuosity into poetry, the fiendish difficulties seized on as pure expressive bonus, so that one is aware of them as novel texture, never as wilfulness. Giltburg provides splendid liner notes, too.

The Sunday Times, 13th January 2019

... Pianist Boris Giltburg has already made impressive recordings of the Shostakovich and Rachmaninov piano concertos for Naxos. Now he set down the complete set of Liszt’s Transcendental Studies which impresses right from the introductory flourishes of the first of the set. There’s some dazzling technique on display; also, though, a fine sense of drama and musical narrative. As you’re about to hear in the extra Study that comes at the end of the recital ... “La Leggierezza”, lightness, the 2nd of Liszt’s Etudes de Concert, a lovely postlude to Boris Giltburg’s new recording of Liszt’s Transcendental Studies, with all the formidable technical challenges duly transcended and in the most musically satisfying way as well. Giltburg begins with Liszt’s Paraphrase on Verdi’s Rigoletto, which makes for an attractive opening to this well-recorded recital released yesterday on Naxos.

BBC Radio Three Record Review (23:50), 12th January 2019