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Liszt: 2 Piano Concertos - Arghamanyan, Altinoglu

Liszt: 2 Piano Concertos - Arghamanyan, Altinoglu

PentaTone Classics  PTC 5186397

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Liszt: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2, Fantasy on Hungarian Folk Tunes, Totentanz

Nareh Arghamanyan (piano)
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Alain Altinoglu (conductor)

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Review by Graham Williams - December 11, 2012

Nareh Arghamanyan's first recording for the PentaTone label was an impressive Rachmaninov recital Rachmaninov - Arghamanyan that showed her to be a pianist of great accomplishment and potential. She now follows this up with her first concerto disc for this label and it proves to be another winner.

Liszt's two Piano Concertos, often perhaps unfairly described as 'war horses', have fared very well on disc with performances by Sviatoslav Richter, Martha Argerich and Krystian Zimerman, to name but three, leading a crowded field. On SACD the choice is more limited so any new coupling of these works is to be welcomed. I have found the BIS recording by Arnaldo Cohen and the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Neschling that I purchased back in 2007, to continue be eminently satisfying, especially for Cohen's incandescent account of 'Totentanz' that is also included here Liszt: 2 Piano Concertos - Cohen, Neschling . Nareh Arghamanyan doesn't quite match the demonic power and sinister quality that Cohen brings to this bizarre piece, though it is a close call.

Nareh Arghamanyan proves to be a most persuasive advocate of both concertos with the technical challenges of Liszt's virtuoso writing presenting no problems for her. The improvisatory quality of much of the 2nd Piano Concerto plays to her strengths, and her rapt and expressive pianism here is quite breathtaking. A considerable added bonus on this SACD is Arghamanyan's scintillating account of Liszt's 'Fantasy on Hungarian Folk Melodies' - an arrangement the composer made for piano and orchestra of of his popular Hungarian Rhapsody No.1.

In all four works she is ably accompanied by the excellent Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Alain Altinoglu. These recordings (a co-production with Deutschland Radio Kultur) took place in the Haus des Rundfunks, Berlin in April 2012 and the sound quality on this disc is outstanding. The piano, recorded closer than the BIS recording referred to above, is reproduced with a wonderful depth of tone, while the orchestra's strings have a silky smoothness. Instrumental solos for clarinet, cello, horn etc. are played with the utmost refinement.

Altogether this is another fine addition to the Liszt concerto discography.

Copyright © 2012 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net

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