Franz Liszt Piano Sonata in B minor Tasso, Lamento e Trionfo [transcribed Tausig] A Faust Symphony – Gretchen [arranged Liszt] Oleg Marshev (piano) Rec. Recorded February 2006 in Aalborg, Denmark DANACORD DACOCD 653 Duration 65 minutes

With realistic and immediate piano sound, Oleg Marshev’s rigorous yet emotional account of Liszt’s great B minor Sonata is a compelling journey. It’s a work often recorded and several new versions have appeared recently; Marshev’s is a considered view, a rendition of insight and experience – and trust in the composer. Marshev sees the work whole and he is not afraid to shape with feeling the lyrical episodes or to make turbulent the climactic ones. But these are not incidental ‘happenings’: they are parts of Liszt’s grand design, and whether Marshev explores the recesses of the music or is turbulently opening it out, the connective tissue is audible. In short, Marshev has recorded a considered and individual version of a great masterpiece, one that serves the music yet also illuminates the music afresh.

The other pieces on the disc are more familiar as orchestral works. Tasso is one of Liszt’s fascinating symphonic poems, and while the varied colours of the orchestra are, of course, somewhat ‘lost’ on a piano (for all its ‘orchestral’ properties), Carl Tausig’s transcription is very effective. The short-lived Tausig (he died aged 29), a pupil of Liszt’s, made this arrangement of Tasso for solo piano after his master had made two of his own, one for two pianos and one for piano duet. Marshev gives a remarkably convincing account; strikingly so at the dramatic opening and with real heart in the ‘lamenting’ section. The dance, at the middle of the work, is less convincing in pianistic terms, but ‘triumph’ is here heroic, which certainly describes Marshev’s assumption of the work.

‘Gretchen’, the slow movement of Liszt’s A Faust Symphony would have been better placed between the Sonata and the (transcribed) symphonic poem (how to follow the end of that!); the composer’s arrangement of his description of the unsullied Gretchen works very well in the ‘black and white’ terms of the piano and is played with sensitivity and character by Marshev to complete a release that includes a commanding version of the Sonata.

Colin Anderson