Liszt, Mephisto Waltz No.1, Sonetto 104 di Petrarca, Shostakovich, 24 Préludes op.34*, Liszt/Gounod, Waltz* from “Faust”; Milan 1995 & 2001*

Elisso Wirssaladze (Piano);
Milan 1995, 2001

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16,00 €


Elisso Wirssaladze, born and schooled in Georgia, is in her late fifties, and is a Professor of Piano at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory and the College of Music in Munich. She imposes her own aggressive artistic personality on these pithy pieces. Wirssaladze seeks out the disconcerting in each Prelude. Towards this end, she does not hesitate to toss out the score’s tempo and dynamic indications. No matter that No. 4 is marked sempre legato, and details no fewer than eighteen dynamic shifts, if it sounds more grotesque when played staccato at virtually constant volume. If slowing No. 12 to less than two-thirds the posted speed limit yields the sensation of driving with the parking brake pulled up halfway, then out with the metronome marking. The end result is a uniquely craggy panorama. How mysterious the isolated note clusters at the heart of Prelude No. 10 now seem, and how unusual it is to find the F# major Prelude, No. 13, wearing such an inscrutable mien. Jaunty No. 24 in Wirssaladze’s hands is a hapless rag doll in the jaws of a Rottweiler. Even stranger is the normally sweet-natured Eb major Prelude, No. 19, whose melodic lines Wirssaladze sets, awkwardly, at rhythmic odds with each other. This is challenging stuff! I can think of no other rendering that complies so fully with Ian MacDonald’s perception of this work as “uniformly barbed, bitter, and disenchanted”.

W. Mark Roberts

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