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Liszt, like the moon, has both a light and a dark side. The thundering virtuoso is represented here by the Dante Sonata, offset by introspective works from his later years – Liszt as mystic.

Steinway Artist Vincent Larderet has a keen awareness of Liszt’s textural workings in the demonic Sonata. This is a performance of utter integrity, closer in intent to Brendel than Volodos or Cziffra.

‘La notte’ from Odes funèbres is an extended work cast in darkest C minor, composed after the death of Liszt’s daughter. Larderet finds the beauty in its desolation and despair. The effect is draining – as it should be – while Schlaflos! is a heartfelt cry. How poignantly the single lines speak, here and elsewhere. La lugubre gondola is a skeletal barcarolle, its crepuscular atmosphere perfectly prolonged by the disturbing Nuages gris.

A chthonic Second Ballade meets RW – Venezia, carved from granite. Funérailles oozes power, rivalling Arrau. Unstern!-Sinistre is brutal; En rêve offers vital solace.

Larderet impressed with his previous release of Florent Schmitt, but this recital takes things to the next level. His melding of the intellectual with the visceral is rare: not since Nyiregyházi has late Liszt emerged with such primal power.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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