Put this one on your Liszt: A CD review by Fraser Beath McEwing

July 29, 2018 by Fraser Beath McEwing
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The piano music of Franz Liszt is often seen as either too syrupy or a keyboard version of a wood-chopping event.

Fraser Beath McEwing

But there is a third side to it, that of genuine romanticism. That is what Avan Yu has achieved in his recent CD release of six piano works by Liszt. They include three Petrarch sonnets, the Hungarian Rhapsody No.12 and, unavoidably, the well-known Liebestraum No. 3. The major work, taking up about half of the CD, is the Sonata in B minor.

Canadian Avan Yu first came to the attention of the Australian classical music loving public in 2012 when he won the Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia which ranks highly among the world’s leading competitions. As well as being placed first overall, he took home nine special awards. Since then, he has been building an international reputation, not only for his formidable technique but for insightful interpretations. This is what his Liszt is all about. Almost every prominent pianist delves into Liszt at some point, usually adding to the growing stack of recordings – each one trying to express something fresh. Defying the odds, Yu achieves this, obliging the listener to stop and contemplate.

Avan Yu

When Avan Yu arrived in Australia recently to play solo concerts he’d just flown in from a recording session with sound engineer Frederico Furlanetto, who produced Yu’s CD at the Fazioli Concert Hall in Cacile, Italy. The Fazioli piano company, which happens to be next door to the concert hall, is an Italian based rival to German-American Steinway, although nowhere as s big. Its hand-built pianos also cost more than Steinway. Whether they are better is open to debate, although the couple I’ve played were a delight. In Avan Yu’s case, the romantic sound he achieves in the CD is certainly enhanced by the piano.

During Yu’s Australian tour he played many of the Liszt pieces on the CD. I recall his rendition of the Sonata in B minor as being one of the best I’d heard live. It is reproduced with the same interpretation on the CD. And although the sonata is outstanding, the three Petrarch sonnets seem to perfectly embody what Yu sees in Liszt and is passing on to the listener.

The CD is available throughAustralia Piano World:  https://www.australiapianoworld.com.au/contactus#contact-us or phone :02 9882 6618

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