Here Biret has a chance not only to display her considerable technique but also to express passionate involvement with the music, and she does so quite effectively. …Biret does a fine job of putting the technical difficulties of the pieces at the service of their expressive intent. Also on the CD are two of Liszt’s operatic pieces, a concert paraphrase on Verdi’s Rigoletto and a piano version of the overture to Wagner’s Tannhäuser. The first of these…combines pianistic virtuosity with melodramatic emotionalism. Here Biret holds back a bit—she is a thoughtful pianist who does not wear her heart on her sleeve—and presents the music straightforwardly, without wallowing or overdoing the emotive component. That approach works well enough for Verdi, but even better in the Wagner arrangement, because here Liszt is careful to preserve the lines and the understated religiosity of the orchestral overture, never allowing the work to become a mere display piece. Biret recorded these works only a few months ago, in April, and they show her retaining, at age 69, the formidable technique she has possessed for decades—and coupling it with musical thoughtfulness and intelligence that have also long been hallmarks of her performances.
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