Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sony Classical Celebrates Liszt's 200th Anniversary with releases from pianists of Today and Yesterday

Recordings by Arthur Rubinstein, Evgeny Kissin, Vladimir Horowitz, Leonard Bernstein, Glenn Gould, Emanuel Ax, Lang Lang And More Available Now

On October 22, 2011, music lovers around the world will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Franz Liszt (1811-1886), whose multi-faceted career as pianist, composer, teacher and conductor made him one of the most inspiring figures in music history. Sony Classical marks this special occasion with the ultimate collection of piano and symphonic masterworks, Franz Liszt: Master and Magician, as well as anniversary editions by icons Vladimir Horowitz, Arthur Rubinstein and Evgeny Kissin, and new Liszt recordings by world-renowned pianist Lang Lang and young Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili.

Franz Liszt: Master and Magician is a limited edition box set that is the ultimate collection of Liszt's piano and symphonic masterworks. Available now, it contains twenty-five CDs featuring performances by legendary conductors Claudio Arrau, Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Eugene Ormandy, Leopold Stokowski and more. Also included is the bonus DVD Horowitz Plays Liszt capturing his electrifying performances of “Soirees de Vienne” Valse Caprice No. 6 in A Major, Sonetto del Petrarca No. 104 in E Major, and Consulation No. 3 in D-flat. Other masters of the Liszt piano repertoire like Emanuel Ax, Vladimir Horowitz, Glenn Gould, Sviatoslav Richter, Murray Perahia, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Van Cliburn are included in this special set.

Arthur Rubinstein's two-disc set, The Liszt Album is also available now. The classic recordings capture the king of 20th century pianists in his prime, playing the composer's dramatic Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 in E-flat major (with the RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra) in a performance Gramophone dubbed simply "superb"; the formidable, nearly symphonic Piano Sonata in B minor (a "masterly performance"); and some of Liszt's best-known shorter works, including the beloved "Liebestraum No. 3," the dark and decisive "Mephisto Waltz," the exquisite "Consolation in D-flat major," and two of the once-controversial Hungarian Rhapsodies.

The deluxe 4-CD set Horowitz Play Liszt showcases six decades of studio recordings and concerts by Vladimir Horowitz, "the Liszt of the 20th century." All of the pianist's legendary live and studio recordings of Liszt for RCA and CBS are captured on a quartet of thematically arranged discs: Early Studio Recordings; Horowitz at Carnegie Hall—Early Live Recordings; CBS Studio Recordings and Horowitz's Return to Carnegie Hall; and The Last Decade. These rewarding, sometimes quite daring interpretations prove that, as Jeremy Siepmann puts it in his liner notes, "like Liszt himself…Horowitz never knew quite how he was going to play a piece until he played it." For those who miss Horowitz's electric presence on the scene, or those too young to have experienced him in person, this collection is surely the next best thing and is available now.

The two CDs comprising Kissin Plays Liszt illustrate Evgeny Kissin’s technical prowess and depth of expression, bringing together his Liszt recordings on RCA Red Seal and Sony Classical from 1987 to 2003. The set contains live recordings from Carnegie Hall in New York and Suntory Hall in Tokyo. Gramophone wrote that "The five Liszt Transcendental Studies bring reminders of Kissin’s own transcendental technique—with a range of dynamics and color capable of transforming the keyboard into a full orchestra ... few meet Liszt’s audacious challenges with a more daring spontaneity." Kissin Plays Liszt is available now.

In addition to those classic recordings, Sony's celebration includes brand-new recordings by two of the best young musicians of our time. The extremely gifted young Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili—praised by Martha Argerich for her astonishing musical imagination and brilliant virtuosity, and by Gidon Kremer as one of the greatest talents of recent years—insisted that her debut recording for Sony Classical be an all-Liszt affair. The many accomplishments of Buniatishvili's young career include winning the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award and receiving the Audience Favorite Award at the 2008 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv. Released in July, her recording Franz Liszt, includes a fiery interpretation of the Mephisto Waltz, a passionate performance of Liszt's transcriptions of Bach's Prelude and Fugue in A minor, and much more.

Lastly but far from least, Lang Lang's second Sony Classical release is appropriately entitled Liszt: My Piano Hero and is available October 4. A documentary, a video blog by the pianist, and a filmed concert will accompany the release as the international sensation tours the world celebrating Liszt’s anniversary year with multiple concerts and events throughout his 2011/2012 season. On the recording, Lang Lang furthers Liszt's dialogues with composers and pianists over the decades and centuries. In addition to favorites like the Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Valery Gergiev leading the Vienna Philharmonic), the Liebestraum, and Consolation No. 3, he also gives us Liszt's transcriptions of great works by Schubert and Wagner, and Vladimir Horowitz's bravura version of Hungarian Rhapsody No. 15, the "Rákóczy March."

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