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David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2009

This is Liszt playing in the grand manner and from an age of expressiveness that is fast disappearing from our concert halls. Idil Biret’s passion for his music stretches back almost fifty years when, at the age of eight, she went into the French Radio studios to make her first recording. Yet I think this is the first time she has committed the two concertos to commercial disc. Compared with modern performances she lets the music simmer after the opening flourish of the First Concerto, only picking up the forward thrust of the score in a highly energised central Allegretto. Then becoming white-hot the performance hurtles to the brilliance of the final passage. Her account of the Second has moments that are very personal to Biret, the second half of the opening movement very deliberately paced. It uses a very extended dynamic range that magnify the mood changes, the final two movements becoming increasingly individual. She then thunders into the opening of Totentanz with the following flourish showing mercurial fingers that have always characterised her playing. Maybe something should have been saved to bring a sense of finality to the closing bars, but there has been much to enjoy throughout the disc. The Bilkent Symphony, under the Bulgarian conductor, Emil Tabakov, plays with abundant enthusiasm in sound engineering that lacks nothing in vivid impact. There are almost countless recordings of the concertos already available on disc, but admirers of the Turkish-born pianist will be well pleased with this new one.

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