Valentina Lisitsa Live at the Royal Albert Hall = RACHMANINOV, BEETHOVEN, LISZT, CHOPIN, SCRIABIN – Decca

by | Aug 31, 2012 | Classical CD Reviews

Valentina Lisitsa Live at the Royal Albert Hall = RACHMANINOV: Prelude in G Minor, Op. 23, No. 5; Prelude in G Major, Op. 32, No. 5; Prelude in G-sharp Minor, Op. 32, No. 12; Prelude in B Minor, Op. 32, No. 10; Etude-Tableau in A Minor, Op. 39, No. 6; BEETHOVEN: Fur Elise; Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2 “Moonlight”; LISZT: La Campanella; Un Sospiro; Liebestraum No. 3 in A-flat Major; CHOPIN: Nocturne in E-flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2; Nocturne in C Minor, Op. 48, No. 1; Nocturne in D-flat Major, Op. 27, No. 2; SCRIABIN: 2 Poemes, Op. 32; “Mosquito” Etude, Op. 42, No. 3 – Valentina Lisitsa, piano – Decca B0017091-02, 67:14 [6/26/12] **** :
Ukrainian virtuoso Valentina Lisitsa (b. 1973), who possesses brains, fingers, and beauty, already made a decided impression upon me in her recital in the Bay Area, courtesy of the Steinway Society, a few years ago. The 19 June 2012 concert captured on this Decca debut disc certainly strikes one as a “greatest hits” commercial ploy, but the acumen and potent musicianship raises the entire enterprise to another level. The absolutely spellbinding warhorse Moonlight Sonata may indulge its “Sonata quasi fantasia” appellation in the first two movements, but the Presto agitato unleashes the tigress whose fortissimos resonate with fire and spice, unlike the more punishing, coarse  percussiveness of Russian Ms. Kern.
The most natural efforts emanate from Lisitsa’s Russian forebears Rachmaninov and Scriabin. Alternately martial and erotic or some alchemy thereof, the preludes and poems project a ravishing palette and sense of interior space. Liszt, too, adds sheer bravura in La Campanella and later suave seduction in Un Sospiro. Lisitsa openly admires Josef Hofmann his dragonfly touch at the keyboard, and she proffers Scriabin’s F-sharp Minor Etude in homage. Her Chopin conveys power and poise and poetry. The three nocturnes urge opposing and complementary elements from Lisitsa, in terms of dynamic and dramatic suppleness of motion and liquid refinement. The album notes tout her Rachmaninov A Minor Etude-Tableau, with its “Little Red Riding Hood” program, which Lisitsa takes at uncanny speed, but I am not about to abandon my Ovchinnikov rendition. Her reading of the B Minor Prelude (“the Return”) of Rachmaninov would seem to bestow upon her the mantle once worn by Gina Bachauer, a great master of size and power in music but who also could coax from the keyboard sensuous nuances. Once we have a series of major solo works and concert recordings with Lisitsa, this disc will provide a natural supplement to any aired tribute.
But one question to Decca: when and why did you stop including timings for the individual selections and the disc as a whole?
—Gary Lemco

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