THE LISZT CONCERTOS / Barenboim, Boulez 4779521

. . . performances scrubbed free of all cliché and convention. Old music now glows with brilliant new colors.

. . . two sharply opposed views of Liszt's piano concertos, both fitting tributes to the anniversary celebrations . . . blessed with an awe-inspiring partnership with Boulez, Barenboim reaches out to a symphonic grandeur and musical range undreamt of by lesser musicians. Time and again he shines a wholly personal light on music . . . Seizing every opportunity for rhetorical grandeur as well as glitter, he makes Liszt's musical possibilities stretch far into the horizon; and the same is true of his two encores. He sings his heart out in the D flat Consolation (that glowing cantabile, that seamless legato), a marvel of poetic confidentiality . . . Here again you sense an artist for whom there are no short cuts in that always perilous and elusive journey to musical truth . . . finely recorded . . . indispensable to Lisztians . . . for the voltage of Barenboim's imaginative vision . . .

He brings a highly individual perspective to these two concertos that is, by today's standards, intriguingly contrarian . . . what's brought out here is the Liszt who admired Beethoven above all other composers. Barenboim's craggy power and introspective streak suit the Second Concerto's loftier manner and more integrated design . . . what impresses is the strong sense of just how ground-breaking and exploratory these two works must have sounded in their time. The Berlin Staatskapelle responds with playing of lustrous breadth to Boulez's ultra-efficient direction. Barenboim's way with the two solos encores searches out their lyrical heart memorably . . .

. . . [Die lyrischen Episoden weiß Barenboim] mit einer Anschlagskultur zu vermitteln, die ihresgleichen sucht. Barenboims Legato ist eine Klasse für sich, insbesondere der langsame Satz des zweiten Konzertes gerät zum Sirenengesang mit betörenden Momenten . . . [die] "Consolation" Nr. 3 ist in ihrer klanglichen Feinnuancierung kaum besser denkbar.