by | Feb 17, 2015 | Classical CD Reviews

“Mostly Transcriptions” = BACH-BUSONI: Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564; SCHUBERT-LISZT: Der Müller und der Bach (The Miller and the Stream) [D.795/19] S.565; CHOPIN-LISZT: Meine Freuden (My Joys) Op. 74 No. 5; J.S. BACH-LISZT: Fantasy and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542: SCHUMANN-LISZT: Widmung (Dedication), Op. 25 No. 1; GLEN CORTESE: Elegy (2008); SCHUMANN-LISZT: Frühlingsnacht (Spring Night), Op. 39 No. 12; SCHUBERT-LISZT: Litanei auf das Fest Aller Seelen (Litany for the Feast of All Souls), D. 343; LISZT: Venezia e Napoli: Gondoliera, Canzone, Tarantella – Tien Hsieh, p. – Titanic Ti-273 (MSR MS 1456), 77:15 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

I bemoaned the lack of receiving volume one of this collection in my previous review.

My groans were heard as not too long afterward I was indeed sent the missing issue, though the Titanic label confused me somewhat. The MSR website indicates that this volume is “by special arrangement” and even gives a catalog number for it—perhaps they will transfer this recording to their own label. I also could not find it on the Titanic website, so I assume MSR is the owner.

If the presence of the Beethoven Sonata No. 32 is what inspired me on the previous issue, the lone non-transcription here, Liszt’s Venezia e Napoli (from the Italian year of his Years of Pilgrimage) doesn’t have quite the same effect; nevertheless, the piece is finely executed with a delicate yet persistent touch that serves the music well. And with the exception of the Busoni arrangement of Bach, Liszt dominates the transcription process all through this recital. Fortunately it is some of his best work, and the Lisztian touch is always far more than a simple transcription. The composer puts his own compositional ethos into each of these works, interpreting them as if he had composed the music itself, and sometimes this adds a whole new perspective to the piece at hand. Whether this is good and valid, I will leave it up to the listener to decide.

The odd work out here, the Cortese Elegy was written as a tribute to the composer’s mentor and friend of many years. It is a touching and quietly reflective piece.

The important thing is that Tien Hsieh once again proves herself a dominating and forcefully interpretative presence. Her technique is strong, her tone warm and clear, and she identifies with these pieces in a way that would have made Earl Wild, that master of transcriptions, proud. Sound is excellent.

—Steven Ritter

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