- Mephisto Waltz (I & II), for piano No. 1 (Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke), S. 514 (LW A189)
- Ballade, for piano No. 2 (I) in B minor, S. 170a
- Prolégomènes à la Divina Commedia - Fantaisie symphonique, for piano, S. 158b
- Sposalizio I, for piano, S. 157a
- Album-Leaf: Consolation No. 1, for piano, S. 171b
- Consolations (6), for piano (First Series), S. 171a (LW A111a/1)
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The young Croatian pianist Goran Filipec has performed music from various periods but has emerged as a Liszt specialist, present on several volumes of the Naxos label's complete Liszt piano cycle. For those who remember the second wave of 20th century pianism (or just have large music collections), the Lisztian he may bring to mind is Alfred Brendel. Brendel, a cerebral-looking player whose Beethoven sonatas were intricate structural examinations, seemed an unlikely Liszt hero, but he offered blistering readings in which not a note was out of place or smudged. Filipec is youthfully charismatic, not cerebral looking, but his Liszt is in the same vein. (The rock-star vision of Liszt was partly a creation of filmmaker Ken Russell and other mythmakers, anyway.) Here, in Vol. 51 of the Naxos series, the program works well whether he was in control or not: there are piano miniatures, and then the intensity builds through the "Italie" entry in the Années de pèlerinage, and then gathers speed for a double slam-bang finale with the "Ballade No. 2 in B minor" and the "Mephisto Waltz No. 1 (Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke)," in its revised version. Caroline Bossier described Liszt's playing as "purer, mellower, and stronger than anyone has been able to do," and that's what Filipec provides, even if "mellow" is not a word one typically associates with Liszt. You might wish for a bit more flexibility in a piece like the "Andantino" from the "Consolations." But skip to the good stuff and sample the "Mephisto Waltz": to get through it at all remains a technical feat, and to get through it without revealing any sweat, as Filipec does here, is a rarer thing. A bonus is the "Album Leaf," originally intended for "Consolations" but then discarded; this is a rarely heard work. Recommended.