Mariam Batsashvili’s Chopin And Liszt Recital

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 7

Sound Quality: 9

I first became acquainted with the Georgian-born pianist Mariam Batsashvili through a recording on the Cobra label containing various Bach, Handel, and Mozart transcriptions, all decently performed but poorly engineered. Happily she receives vibrant and lifelike sonics for her Warner Classics debut.

Liszt’s Bénédiction De Dieu Dans La Solitude can sound interminable in the wrong hands, yet the piece comes off beautifully here. If Claudio Arrau read between the music’s lines with sustained breadth and caressing nuance, Batsashvili, by contrast, favors headlong yet flexible tempos that still bring out all of the music’s harmonic subtleties.

An individual stamp prevails in the six Chopin/Liszt Polish Song transcriptions, notably via Batsashvili’s winsomely varied trills in The Maiden’s Wish, and in Die Heimkehr’s uncommonly clear gurgling bass runs. Her lyrical fluidity in the six Liszt Consolations differs from Jorge Bolet’s stately and occasionally static demeanor, although don’t expect the popular No. 3 to take your breath away as Vladimir Horowitz’s half-tints and dabs of pedal always did.

The Chopin and Liszt etude selections hold less interest. Batsashvili plays Chopin’s Op. 10 Nos. 1, 2, and 4 well, but not memorably nor scintillatingly. While Liszt connoisseurs surely will welcome his Ninth and Tenth Transcendental Etudes in their earlier, rarer, and more difficult 1837 editions, Batsashvili’s slightly heavy and square phrasing never really ignites the untitled F minor’s cascading passage-work. Nor does the earlier and admittedly rambling edition of Ricordanza come so poetically alive as in Janice Weber’s far more engaging interpretation for the IMP label, which sadly is out-of-print. I give a special shout-out for Leslie Howard’s scholarly yet vividly succinct booklet notes.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None for this collection

    Bénédiction De Dieu Dans La Solitude; Six Consolations; Twelve Grandes Etudes: Nos. 9 & 10; Six Polish Songs after Chopin
    Etudes Op. 10: Nos. 1, 2, & 4
  • Mariam Batsashvili (piano)

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