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Christopher Howell
MusicWeb International, September 2007

Volume 24 of the complete Naxos Liszt edition opens with the ubiquitous Mephisto Waltz No.1, followed by its lesser-known companions. No.4 is actually a brief fragment, complete only in the sense that it does not break off in mid-phrase. A contrasting Andantino section had been sketched for it. The two Elegies were written four years apart and are not intended as a pair. The Grosses Konzertsolo is a sort of single-movement sonata; it was later arranged for piano and orchestra and for two pianos as the Concerto Pathétique. It is probably best known in this latter guise.

Andaloro, a pupil of Fiorentino and the winner of the 2005 Busoni Competition in Bolzano, has a commanding technique. His tone remains rich and rounded in the heaviest passages. Nor does he neglect the more poetic aspects of the music. My only very slight complaint is that he fractionally but regularly delays chords which are preceded by an upward leap. Whether this is a technical matter or whether he intends to “place” the chords expressively, I can’t say. I would just rather he didn’t do it. But I don’t want to make too much of this. It is fine playing, without doubt…Fully informative notes by Keith Anderson and excellent recording.

Jed Distler, July 2007

2005 International Busoni Competition winner Giuseppe Andaloro makes his first contribution to Naxos’ slowly but steadily progressing complete Liszt piano music cycle, starting with all four Mephisto Waltzes. Andaloro’s exciting, headlong treatment of No. 1’s diabolically virtuosic episodes contrasts to his protracted lingering over the central love music. For whatever reason, the pianist navigates a more direct path through the lesser-known yet substantial No. 2. Here Andaloro’s supple dispatch of Liszt’s chordal aggregates and long octave stretches keeps the textures light. He plays the late-period Third and unfinished Fourth equally well, presenting the latter in its “traditional ” foreshortened state, in contrast to Leslie Howard’s longer, more elaborate reading.

Although Andaloro understands the two Elegies’ stark and brooding nature, his choppy gauging of No. 2’s central climax yields to Howard’s smoother, more fluidly voiced traversal. However, the pianist’s big technique and effortless ability to rise up to his instrument’s orchestral capabilities operate at peak form in the Grosses Konzertsolo, a technically formidable piece written in 1849 for a competition at the Paris Conservatoire…

Michael Cookson
MusicWeb International, June 2007

This twenty-fourth volume in the Naxos series of Liszt’s complete piano music contains a mixture of the known and the relatively unknown. Performed by Italian pianist Giuseppe Andaloro the music on this disc comprises works of a mixture of lengths, including a fine example of one of Liszt’s ventures into larger forms, namely his substantial Grosses Konzertsolo, S176.

The Palermo-born Giuseppe Andaloro has been successful in a number of piano competitions including the prestigious 2005 Ferruccio Busoni competition in Bolzano. A student of the renowned pianist and teacher Sergio Fiorentino from Naples, Andaloro is also active as a conductor and a composer.

Liszt is best known as a virtuoso pianist, although, he was also a major influence as a progressive composer who according to biographer Cecil Gray created, “some of the greatest and most original masterpieces of the nineteenth century.” A prolific and versatile composer Liszt produced over seven hundred scores covering most genres of which over half were piano compositions.

Although Liszt’s name is extremely well known a large proportion of his compositions remain neglected. With the exception of a small number of frequently recorded warhorses and the temporary resurgence in interest for the centenary of his death in 1986, Liszt is, I believe, a composer who is currently out of vogue. The same could be said about Gounod and Franck whose music seems to be suffering the same ignominious fate.

Liszt’s Four Mephisto Waltzes were undoubtedly inspired by Faus,Ein Gedicht by the Hungarian-Austrian Romantic poet Nikolaus Lenau. The Mephisto Waltz No. 1, the second of the Two episodes from Lenau’s Faust,was originally known as ‘Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke’ (The Dance in the Village Inn). The score was first heard in Liszt’s orchestrated version with the piano score dedicated to Liszt’s former pupil the young pianist Carl Tausig. In this interpretation the wild and thrilling heights of the opening section contrast superbly with the melting tenderness of the central Espressivo amoroso.

Dating from the years 1878-81 the Mephisto Waltz No. 2 was heard in its orchestral version at Budapest in 1881 and dedicated to Saint-Saëns. Andaloro once again provides an assured change of mood from the devil’s diabolical activities to the welcome mood of absolute relaxation from 3:01 (track 2). Most impressive is the thrilling conclusion, overflowing with zest and ardour.

Composed in 1883 the Mephisto Waltz No. 3 is dedicated to Liszt’s former pupil Marie Jaëll, the piano prodigy and composer. Here Andaloro builds up an impressive degree of tension providing powerful and exhilarating playing. From 1885 the Mephisto Waltz No. 4 lay unfinished and unpublished for some time. Liszt left some sketches for a contrasting Andantino section that he probably intended to incorporate into the score. In this brief Mephisto Waltz No. 4 our confident Italian soloist provides robust playing with a gripping sense of urgency.

Liszt’s Two Elegies were written in 1874 and 1878 respectively. The First Elegy was composed in memory of Madame Moukhanoff-Kalergis (née Countess Marie Nesselrode) who was a talented pianist and member of Liszt’s circle. A work notable for an intense sense of grieving evident throughout. The Second Elegy bears a dedication to Liszt's biographer Lina Ramann and has been described as being, “a work of tender melancholy.” In the First Elegy Anadaloro displays a deep concentration in a heartfelt performance and in the Second Elegy one feels a deep sadness from our accomplished communicator. The passionate climax that builds from 3:04 (track 6) is just sensational.

Liszt composed his substantial and single movement Grosses Konzertsolo, S176 between 1849 and 1850. Although intended as a competition score for the Paris Conservatoire, the dedicatee, the gifted virtuoso pianist Adolf Henselt, declared that he was unable to play it. Liszt also produced an extended version for piano and orchestra titled the Grand Solo de Concert, S365. Some time before publication in 1851 Liszt revised the Grosses Konzertsolo by adding an Andante sostenuto central section also reworking later stages of the piece creating a single span three-sections-in-one movement. In 1856 Liszt went on to make an arrangement of the Grosses Konzertsolo for two pianos titled the Concerto pathétique, S258.

The extended Grosses Konzertsolo is a study of technique and concentration in which Andaloro takes a vice-like grip and directs the listener on a remarkable musical journey. An epic score, the Grosses Konzert solo deserves to be heard far more frequently in recital. Sadly the accessibility of the work is hindered by its substantial length.

Closely recorded at Potton Hall in Suffolk this Naxos disc has the advantage of an exceptional sound quality being bright and crystal clear. Keith Anderson’s booklet notes match his usual high standard.

For those wishing to explore outside the more usual genre of Liszt’s piano works and symphonic poems I have prepared a list of a number of performances of fascinating Liszt works that have provided me with considerable enjoyment. Given the relative neglect of the music in recent times it is hard to imagine just how esteemed he was in his day. As a strong advocate of the music of Liszt I believe one of his most enduring genres, and frequently his most neglected, is his often revelatory sacred music. The listing is contained at the end of my review of Liszt’s Via Crucis on the Naïve label.

Pianist Giuseppe Andaloro is indeed an inspired choice as soloist. One senses his complete involvement with the significant demands of Liszt’s challenging music.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2007

Winner of a catalogue of piano competitions including the Ferruccio Busoni in 2005, the twenty-seven year old Italian, Giuseppe Andaloro, has already established a place on the world concert circuit. A pupil of the legendary Sergio Fiorentino, he is obviously well equipped musically to tackle these fiendishly difficult pieces. If he does not quite capture the diabolic side of the Mephisto Waltzes with the same devilishly glee of his mentor, you can still hear Fiorentino influence, and I can give no praise higher than that. Youth still has him dashing into those horrendously difficult passages with zestful haste, but he is technically gifted, and can play fast passages at a speed others would only dream about. The result is undoubted excitement, at times Andaloro appearing to have been blessed with three hands. He is also a very powerful pianist able to hammer out those massive climaxes in a way that Liszt would surely have admired. He is aware the Mephisto include moments of quirky humour that are often overlooked, Andaloro the poetic pianist appearing in the delicacy he brings to the Two Elegies. This delicacy is brought together with his brilliance in the seldom-heard Grosses Konzertsolo. The engineers have captured the excitement of the moment in the Mephisto, thankfully not sterilising the performances by minute editing.

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