Liszt
Les cloches de Genève (Années de Pelèrinage: Suisse)
Funérailles (Harmonies poétiques et religieuses)
Eroica (Etudes d’exécution transcendante)
Nuages gris
Fantasy and Fugue on B.A.C.H
Rhapsodie espagnole
Song Transcriptions (Schubert) – Erstarrung; Aufenthalt; Ave Maria
Zeynep Ucbasaran (piano)
Recorded in November and December 2001 at Abravanel Hall, Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara, California
CD No: EROICA JDT3092
Duration:
Reviewed: July 2002
This is a well-played and extremely musical Liszt recital. The programme is varied and interesting, the recording full and natural, if not up to the highest standards of the major companies, the presentation striking, even though I was not taken by the long-exposure photographs. Zeynep (the cover emphasises the first name, a Turkish habit) is a pianist from Istanbul whose most recent training was made in California. She has written her own booklet note, a practice I applaud.
Zeynep shows a mature understanding of the enormous difficulty in reconciling Liszt’s technical demands with the need to sustain musical line and compositional structure. By an essentially understated approach, yet one that does not skimp on virtuosity, she successfully negotiates pieces as wild as Eroica or as spiritual as The Bells of Geneva. Funérailles is extremely demanding – Zeynep is clearly equal to it. She appreciates its programmatic character and is especially winning in the dark central section.
Similarly, her sympathy with the strangeness and tragedy of Nuages gris is evident, although neither in this nor in the equally difficult B.A.C.H Fantasy and Fugue can she quite yet sustain the mystery and length of paragraph needed to reveal them to best advantage.
The three song transcriptions are beautifully played if uneven – given that one imagines the piano version must in part convey the mood of the original. Ave Maria is wholly sustained by its beguiling line; however I missed the agonised, if self-indulgent torture suffered by the hero of Erstarrung and the depth of Aufenthalt.
The Spanish Rhapsody, always in control, never forced, and with excellent lyrical episodes brings the recital to an exciting conclusion. Liszt is generally easier to record than to perform live – his technical demands are so unrelenting that the luxury of several takes is a benefit. Recorded Liszt can therefore sound sterile, discontinuous; Zeynep’s disc is never that if sometimes lacking the last degree of profundity or incandescence. As a debut studio recording this is a fine achievement.

 

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