20th June 2018
The pianist talks to David about the first instalment of Années de pélerinage, which was our Recording of the Week a fortnight ago.
8th June 2018
James listens to a turbulent account of the Première année in Liszt's piano cycle Années de pèlerinage from Swiss pianist Francesco Piemontesi.
Read Presto's complete review of this recording here and David's exclusive interview with Francesco Piemontesi here.
There is arguably no other piano work that displays the same abundance and diversity of overall purpose, as well as profound expression, and that demands such a high degree of skill from the performer than this wide-ranging piano cycle from the high Romantic era. At the same time, it is almost shocking how very few recordings there are (hardly any, that is to say, not to mention a dearth of concert performances), above all by the great pianists of recent years. The reason for this must surely be the spiritual demands on the artist's powers of imagination, required to imbue the keys of the instrument with the bold and exciting depictions of the most diverse emotional landscapes. At this time, Liszt had reached the pinnacle of his compositional imaginative powers when it came to composing piano works, and as the Liszt connoisseur Alfred Brendel once said, his music has the capacity to mercilessly reveal the weaknesses of its interpreters, not just from the point of view of technique, but with regard to the authenticity of expression. There can be no such talk of weaknesses in the case of the young, yet widely and repeatedly acclaimed Francesco Piemontesi. Orfeo is delighted to release, as his first recording, the first volume of the cycle. The booklet notes, written in the form of a stimulating essay by the respected pianist, musicologist and critic Piero Rattalino, who is acknowledged among music lovers for his profound experience and originality, can be seen as a fine compliment to the artist. The second accolade is the twinning of the audio recording with a DVD featuring a documentary by none other than the legendary Bruno Monsaingeon, who has produced numerous film portraits that have made a huge contribution to music performance history, not least several about Glenn Gould and Sviatoslav Richter.