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American Record Guide 2011
Liszt Sonata / Paganini Etudes
By James Harrington

Excellent and quite enjoyable performances of the sonata along with good Liszt filler pieces. Biret's Paganini Etudes constitute another major Liszt work… The Idil Biret Archive, distributed by Naxos, has already supplied me many pleasurable listening hours. As copyright and licensing rights expire on other labels (she has recorded for 10) the grand plan is to assemble them here. 23 years separate her recording of the Sonata (2010) and the Paganini Etudes (1987), yet this fact surprised me since I noticed only a little difference in the sound quality. This is not just another recording of Liszt's masterly sonata, but a mature, probing interpretation that doesn't miss any incarnation of the main motives or lack the technical abilities to bring them out. It is a bit dry, and there are a few minor finger slips, lending it somewhat of a close-microphoned concert performance quality. If it were a concert recording, it would rank alongside the best I have ever heard (Earl Wild & Krystian Zimerman). I would [like] to know more about the recording circumstances. They list the venue as Bilkent Hall in Ankara (where Biret was born). A little searching on the internet finds reviews of a number of Biret's performances at this hall, so it is a place she knows well. The Paganini Etudes were recorded in Brussels and offer a similar kind of interpretation and performance.
James Harrington
American Record Guide, May 2011

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