Booklet Notes:Tracklisting in English, French, German.
This recital by György Cziffra (1921-94) was made by the BBC in 1962-3 and should probably be re-classified as a class-A drug, so mind-blowing are the pianist's incredible gifts. The improvisation that opens the programme recalls the nights that he spent at the piano in bars in his native Budapest and is inspired in particular by Chopin's Gdzie lubi Op.74 No.5, which Cziffra paraphrases alla zingarese, before tackling the same composer's Étude in C major Op.10 No.1, which he plays at a vertiginous prestissimo. The programme builds to a thrilling climax with a highoctane performance of the Hungarian Rhapsody No.6 by Cziffra's favourite composer, Franz Liszt.
Benno Moïseïwitsch (1890-1963) was famous for his impassivity at the piano even when the technical difficulties seemed insurmountable, encouraging observers to dub him "Pokerface Benno". His virtuosity and musicality were marvellously well suited to the Romantic and post-Romantic repertoire. He is heard here in works by Schumann and Rachmaninov.
Moïseïwitsch was a good friend of Rachmaninov, who regarded him as one of the finest interpreters of his music. Like Cziffra, Jorge Bolet (1914-90) belonged to the Lisztian tradition, having had the privilege of working with Leopold Godowsky while he was still very young. Above all, however, his mentors included two of Liszt's most famous pupils, Moriz Rosenthal and Emil von Sauer. Capable of mastering even the most difficult scores, Bolet never sought virtuosity for its own sake alone, as is clear from his performances of Liszt's Grand galop chromatique, which contrasts sharply with Cziffra's reading of the same piece, and of Chopin's Berceuse.
“Cziffra's 1962 recital… opens with astonishing "warm-up", an improvisation that ends with a vertiginous Chopin C major Etude. After this, Moiseiwitsch seems to be from another age - economically, quietly singing his way through his beloved Schumann. Finally, the magisterial Jorge Bolet. How wonderful it is to see again that huge torso bent in concentration over the keyboard and the characteristic upward snap of the hands.”
“Fuzzy filming from the 1950s and '60s, but a boggling feast of performances from three of the greatest piano virtuosos of the 20th century, crowned by those of Cziffra whose improvisation has to be heard to be believed.”
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