Michael Walsh
April 05, 2002 AT 05:00 AM EST

Liszt: Transcendental Studies (1838 Version)

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Janice Weber
Producers
MCA Classics
genre
Classical

We gave it a B+

Weber is a Boston-based pianist and novelist (”The Secret Life of Eva Hathaway”) whose musical career has posed the question, why make it easy for yourself when you can make it hard? Eschewing the standard repertory, Weber has instead concentrated on the fiercest knuckle-crackers — in particular the showpieces of Leopold Godowsky and the transcriptions of other late-Romantic virtuosos. Now comes this recording of Liszt’s famous etudes — not the final version of 1852, which is usually played, but the even harder version of 1838, the one Liszt himself performed in public. Weber brilliantly argues the case for the composer’s earlier thoughts, dashing through the studies with an impressive technique and a clearheaded understanding that, underlying all the fireworks, one of the 19th century’s most formidable musical minds was at work.

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