Magyar Narancs: The Masters Collection: György Cziffra
‘… a collection of iconic recordings of Hungaroton’s most renowned artists including ones that define not only an oeuvre but an entire age, and give the audience an experience to remember forever.’ that is how the publisher describes their objective with the Masters Collection. The album presenting György Cziffra’s (1921–1994) art contains three CDs with Liszt’s works outnumbering other composers by including the Piano concerto in E flat major; five Hungarian rhapsodies; eleven out of the Twelve Transcendental Études; some transcriptions, and paraphrases – together with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and Cziffra’s six paraphrases to Johann Strauss junior’s, Verdi’s and Brahms’ works.
Cziffra’s art carries the message of a bygone age. It is essentially rooted in the romantic virtuosity cult of the 19th century. Paganini was the first the idolize technical skill, and Liszt followed suit. The principle was that instrumental or vocal stunts are not only permitted, but an essential esthetical ingredient. Today virtuosity is only appreciated as the ‘maidservant of the artistic message’. That means that Cziffra’s piano playing, impressively elegant, is too important a reminder of another world, the decades he had spent in France adding to its obvious artistic value, in which instrumental bravura is appreciated even if regarded only as mere circus performance. The three disks evoke the music of Liszt, and Gershwin in rich, and versatile interpretations, featuring inspiration and generous characterisation, and of course unmatched instrumental perfection. Some excess in proportions only occur in the pianist’s own transcriptions.
Source: Magyar Narancs