Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Franz Liszt Rhapsodies, Etudes and Transcriptions By Sophia Agranovich


Franz Liszt Rhapsodies, Etudes and Transcriptions


Sophia Agranovich

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Sophia Agranovich is still basking in the success of her last major hit Celebrating Beethoven many months after its release, whilst its chart position may be waning, her influence over the world of piano and classical music is growing exponentially, and now with the release of a brand new album entitled Franz Liszt Rhapsodies, Etudes and Transcriptions, things have never looked brighter for the musician.

Franz Liszt Rhapsodies, Etudes and Transcriptions is a wonderfully strong and fluent album, and the opening piece is one of the most colourful yet impassioned performance pieces ever, in Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6 in D-flat Major. The intensity here is palpable; this was of course the sixth work of the 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies composed by Franz Liszt, the steady bass line and the fast moving melody is a real treat with which to start this voyage of classical delights with.

Our next piece is the creatively performed Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13 in A Minor, an arrangement with a colourful Hungarian Folk ethic within its realms of wonderment. Agranovich presents this so stylishly, and her performance has an artistic flourish that enhances this early romantic offering with such a crafted and intelligent enactment, this is without doubt a piece that contains a truly engaging musical narrative for all to enjoy.

Our journey finds us at the doorstep of the following piece entitled Ständchen (Serenade), and is without a shadow of a doubt the most heartfelt and emotive pieces from this new album. Agranovich brings this mood and passion into her moving performance; this once poem of yearning is textured perfectly by the artist.

Erlkönig (Elf King) would be one of my personal favourites off the album, Agranovich creates a mood so mysterious and deep that one just literally has to follow her bright burning lights of a passionate performance. Schubert originally composed this piece back in 1815, and Liszt would arrange this for solo piano, while one of my favoured composers in Hector Berlioz would later manifest this as well as an orchestrated composition, and this tale of a boy being pursued by a supernatural being lives on within the music forever.

As we move into the deeper pools of our musical river, we come across one of the most attractive and artistic tapestries of tone and timbre and called, Die Forelle (The Trout). Originally composed by Schubert in 1817, this clever composition tells the tale of pursuit, capture and morality. Agranovich gifts us a textured and persuasive performance, one that takes us to the very clear mirrored pools of the home of the trout itself, in a presentation that is simply breath-taking and sublimely intelligent.

So we find ourselves knocking on the portal to our penultimate piece off the release, it is Transcendental Étude Ricordanza in A flat Major. This has to be one of the best performances by the pianist; the composition demands a level of sensitivity and delicate finger work. Some would regard this as long form, but the actual term is Rondo form, with a relatively brief recurring principle theme in between lengthy episodes. Here we see Agranovich rising to her pinnacle on this dream like presentation.

Our concluding arrangement is sheer genius; it is a performance that is golden in texture and iron clad in structure and presentation, on Transcendental Étude Mazeppa in D minor. Rated to be one of the hardest Études to execute, and based upon a poem by Victor Hugo, Agranovich pulls off a masterful accomplishment and a simply majestic concluding achievement, one with great speed and endurance and sublime commanding finger movements.

Franz Liszt Rhapsodies, Etudes and Transcriptions by Sophia Agranovich is a recital that you would willingly buy tickets to watch, it is a formidable collection of great works performed by an artist who has a sublime sense of technical skill, and also the creative and artistic intelligence to make it happen, one so magical that it brings to the world a recital of such class and colour, it also opens the world of classical music up, and makes it accessible to anyone.

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