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See latest reviews of other albums..., August 2012

The Idil Biret Solo Edition, featuring recent rather than historical performances by the Turkish pianist, is turning out to be a truly exceptional experience…the Solo Edition ones are in some ways the most impressive of all. Biret’s handling of the rarely performed 1837 Grandes Etudes by Liszt is simply magnificent. Biret’s playing in this 2011 performance is simply outstanding. The tremendous difficulties of, for example, Nos. 5 (its tempo designated Egualmente) and 8 (Presto strepitoso) are clear but become almost irrelevant as Biret, a very cerebral pianist, thinks through the music and brings it exactly where she wants it to go. One other example of Biret’s thoughtfulness, among many: in No. 11, at 11 minutes the longest of these pieces (and one that Liszt shortened in 1851), Biret uses sensitivity and absolute mastery of the keyboard to produce a work of gorgeous lyricism, more a miniature tone poem than a “mere” etude. Indeed, there is nothing “mere” about any of these works—the set of 12 takes 80 minutes to play—and Biret fully plumbs the depths of the pieces’ emotions while scaling the heights of intensity and pianism that they demand. © 2012 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2011

Don’t be confused, for what we have here is the outrageously difficult early version of the more familiar Douze Etudes d’execution transcendante. They date from 1837, when the composer was twenty-six and flexing his muscles as the greatest keyboard virtuoso the world had ever known. They were in the shape of studies that Liszt had begun at the age of thirteen, and eventually published two years later, but subsequently revised in 1837. They were to be the basis for the Transcendental Studies published in 1851, the composer requesting that they should, in performance, replace the 1837 version which had been described as nothing more than a showpiece. It is only recently that the work has been premiered on disc in Leslie Howard’s complete ‘Liszt Edition’ for Hyperion, and there has certainly been no queue of pianists wanted to take on the challenge. Now we have Idil Biret, at the age of seventy, taking up the challenge with her impeccable Liszt credentials. They are scores that would often sound empty if the performer did not reveal the immense difficulties, particularly in grandiose passages. Where Biret is so special comes in those mercurial etudes where fingers ripple around in dizzying arabesques, the Fifth charmingly handled. She also brings the darkness of death to the Sixth, and it would be difficult to imagine a more delicate account of the Ninth study that follows her tempestuous Eighth. She cannot hide the strain of the Tenth, but returns to safer ground in the solemnity of the Eleventh. There is nothing willful in her performance as a whole—as we often experience in the accounts of the Transcendental—and there is a great deal to recommend in her conquest of this fiendish score. Recorded earlier this year, you could hardly improve on the sound.

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