The Angelic Liszt
Eileen Pollock | New York, NY | 07/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Emanuel Ax prefers to give us the beauties of Liszt in these concertos and the piano sonata. He forgoes the usual pyrotechnics and devilry for a more sensitive reading. While some may prefer the demonic Liszt, others will appreciate Ax's beauty of line wedded to pianistic virtuosity. A lovely recording!"
Ax is glittering and splashy in the concertos, dull in the S
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 06/21/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Except for a handful of shorter pieces, this RCA reissue gathers together all of Emanuel Ax's Liszt preformances, which were originally on Sony. At mid-price his two Liszt concertos with Salonen are competitive--Ax plays with glittering brilliance, and the fastest passagework sounds as civilized as Chopin. I'm not sure these brass-plated warhorses deserve to go to a tea party, though. Ax doesn't act like he's in the middle of a three-ring circus, which is what Liszt intended and what he himself loved. If you are tired of showboating at the keyboard, then Ax's cool but splashy readings, with a notable absence of rubato, are right for you.
I can't see anybody loving his Sonata in B minor, though. This is Liszt's greatest solo piano work; it has been given towering performances by, among others, Richter, Horowitz, and Pollini. The technical demands are feirce--the socre challenges the pianist to defeat it. Ax proceeds without panache or ocurage. He makes the main theme sound foursquare and dull, and even though he picks up some fire later on, he's too civilized to jump into the fray and play the piece for thrills, of which it contains many."