Liszt: Transcendental – Études d'éxécution transcendante, S 139; Two Concert Etudes, S 145; Three Concert Etudes, S 144; Grandes études de Paganini, S 141

Reviewed on Thu 08 Dec, 2016

Listen beyond the sound of an instrument voiced and tuned somewhat differently from the norm to hear a musician who illuminates the contemplative (Ricordanza), the fanciful (Gnomenreigen) and the poetic (Harmonies du soir) as easily as he portrays the heroic (Mazeppa) but without a trace of coarseness or overweening display.

This set's title, “Transcendental”, also describes Daniil Trifonov’s technique to a nicety. But rising above pianism of precision and torrential power is also a vision of what lies beneath the myriad difficulties of these pieces – a strong vein of spirituality largely un-noticed today. Not for nothing, though, had Pope Pius IX christened Liszt ‘my Palestrina’, finding depth in his sacred music that Trifonov discerns in the secular too. Listen beyond the sound of an instrument voiced and tuned somewhat differently from the norm to hear a musician who illuminates the contemplative (Ricordanza), the fanciful (Gnomenreigen) and the poetic (Harmonies du soir) as easily as he portrays the heroic (Mazeppa) but without a trace of coarseness or overweening display. Thus does nonpareil artistry also recall Wilhelm von Lenz’s belief that Liszt was “a prophet who ceased to be a plain citizen to become a soldier of the spirit in his own church”.
–Nalen Anthoni