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Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Sonata in B minor, S178/R21 [31:38]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
An die ferne Geliebte (transcribed by Liszt) [14:50]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Phantasie in C Major, Op. 17 [34:16]
Juan Pérez Floristán (piano)
rec. Auditorio Sony, Fundación Albéniz, Madrid, Spain, 2016
NAXOS 8.573792 [81:01]

In 2015 the young Spanish pianist, Juan Pérez Floristán was both winner of the Santander International Competition and a prize winner at the Steinway Competition in Berlin, so he has certainly shown some pedigree and ability. That being said, my reviewing this disc will come as a surprise to anyone who knows me.

Liszt has never been a favourite of mine, quite the opposite, he has been a stumbling block, I don’t know why but I have never really enjoyed his music, especially his piano music. So to review a disc that opens with one of his major showpieces might seem daft to some, I do however have other recordings of this work, though very seldom played. Compared to Maurizio Pollini (427 322-2), whose recording is two and a half minutes quicker than Juan Pérez Floristán’s, or Claudio Arrau (464 713), Floristán does not quite make the grade, which is understandable, after all, here is a young man beginning to make his way as a concert pianist so comparing him to two doyens of the piano world is not fair. Floristán does have good passages, but he just can’t compare with Arrau in the Grandioso section, especially as it moves into the Recitativo section. I have probably listened to the Sonata enough times now to last the next few years.

I do enjoy Liszt when he is in transcription mode however, I remember having most of his transcriptions of the Beethoven symphonies on vinyl, here we have his version of Beethoven’s song cycle An die ferne Geliebte, and whilst this work makes less technical demands on the pianist than in the Sonata, it still needs a degree of concentration and ability, things that Floristán displays well.

The final work on the disc is Schumann’s Phantasie, which is probably the piano work that I have most recordings of, here Floristán, a prophetic name when performing Schumann, gives a steady and enjoyable performance. It is not the most showy, Richter (4808745) is nearly three minutes quicker, Floristán does however give a thoughtful and considered performance, one with a youthful freshness, but one that shows Floristán has made his own decision regarding tempo and ready to put his own stamp on the work.

This is a good recital, which whilst it does not offer the best versions, presents a pianist on the cusp of what should be a glowing career, a pianist to watch.

Stuart Sillitoe



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