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Jonathan Welsh
MusicWeb International, July 2017

This is a valuable addition to the Naxos Liszt series, with some very engaging and insightful playing from a pianist who obviously thought a great deal about how to play what he was playing and who sadly tragically died far too soon. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Patrick Rucker
Gramophone, March 2017

Standouts among these fine performances are Festetics’s ‘Spanish Serenade’, reminiscent of Liszt’s more extended setting of Hugo’s ‘Gastibelza’, a dreamy account of Chopin’s ‘Mes joies’ and ‘The Blind Singer’, a vividly persuasive reading of Liszt’s melodrama to a text of Alexey Tolstoy. Two versions of the Romance oubliée hint at the evolving refinement and delicacy clearly discernible in the ‘Nonnenwerth’ settings. In all the performances, Hastings employs great variety of touch without over-playing, a sure sense of pacing and, most critically for this repertory, acute sensitivity to the original texts. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2017

As we reach the Forty-forth volume of the complete piano music of Franz Liszt, twenty years will have passed since Naxos released the first disc in the project. Now we are into the shavings from the master-craftsman’s work-bench, with transcriptions for solo piano of songs mostly written earlier by himself. They vary in success, at times missing the presence of words that were the most important aspect of the work. Elsewhere, as in the Spanisches Standchen, the version stands on its own merit, and it is interesting to compare the four settings of Prince Felix Lichnovsky’s poem Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth, each having progressing degrees of complexity and length, the Fourth almost overburdened by decoration. Elsewhere we have unending arpeggios that are best suited to song accompaniments, and retained my attention by the sensitivity of approach we enjoy from the multi-award winning Canadian pianist, Joel Hastings. He even manages to make the transcription of Ferenc Erkel’s bombastic, Szozat und Ungarischer Hymnus, less trite than it deserves. The release, however, comes with the considerable sadness that three months after recording the disc last January, Hastings died suddenly of a heart attack, aged just forty-six. With the tenderness and infinite beauty he lavished on these works, the disc is hugely enjoyable, and had the benefit of well engineered sound where his wife, Charise, was the Producer and Editor. © 2017 David’s Review Corner





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