On evidence here, Lisitsa has formidable technical chops, with playing distinguished by quick tempos that hew close to Rachmaninov's own, exceptional clarity of texture, and razor-sharp rhythm and attacks (along with a penchant for full-bodied, Horowitz-style chords). These qualities come forth most strongly in Concerto No. 3, where the pianist's accuracy and detail at such high speeds [impresses] . . . in No. 4 Lisitsa's focus and drive does lend shape and clarity, making the music sound less discursive than usual. Concerto No. 2 comes off best, as Lisitsa exhibits genuine feeling and tenderness in the enchanting Andante second movement. Conductor Michael Francis at last makes his presence known in this work, pointing up Rachmaninov's gorgeous orchestral colors and dynamic shadings.
. . . a warm, engaging and admirable disc of Liszt's florid, self-indulgent transcriptions. The Schubert song treatments are lovely . . . She does have a good vision . . . for this music. Bravo to her for "El contrabandista" . . . and for "Erlkoenig" . . .
Anyone who heard pianist Valentina Lisitsa . . . knew right away she wasn't just a passing YouTube wonder, but an artist deserving a place at the head table of the world's most interesting classical soloists. The latest keepsake of her highly individual, overtly expressive approach to the piano is [this new disc] . . . Lisitsa's selection of pieces is as interesting as her interpretations . . . The journey drags us from the drawing room to the concert stage and then back again as well as taking us from introspection to extravagant shows of emotion -- and back again, as well. Lisitsa's interpretive contribution impresses on many levels: The first, the most obvious, is her unbelievably fluid technique, which doesn't recognize any obstacles; the second is in an absolute clarity in teasing out every musically important idea in each score; the third is making the piano sing seductively from beginning to end. This is not just about sparkle and cascading runs and crashing chords. This is about gorgeous [music] . . . [Verdi/Liszt & Schubert/Liszt]: They capture everything that makes the original music so captivating, including the singing, while enhancing it with colours and textures that take advantage of everything a modern concert-grand piano has to offer.
The transcription of "Des Mädchens Klage" conveys a tragic, lyrical power -- attend to Lisitsa's prowess in the bass line -- of any of his "Liebesträume". The emotional as well as digital abysses of "Der Erlkönig" hardly need review: Lisitsa takes it a rapid tempo, capturing the fury of the storms natural and psychical . . . A quiet stasis ensues in "The Miller and the Brook," a kind of enchanted occasionally scintillating nocturne illuminated by Lisitsa's affecting parlando. Lastly, the ubiquitous Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12, with its eight motifs of tragic and whimsical affects, wrapped by rhetorical fervor. Lisitsa certainly produces cimbalom and music-box effects in the course of the music's luxurious development, alternately declamatory and soaring in its evocations.
. . . hers is always real caution-to-the-winds music-making of flawless technique and great imagination . . . [Hungarian Rhapsody no. 12]: there's a quality to her virtuosity that smacks not of egotism but oft he need to push herself just because she can. I've rarely heard anyone make the keyboard explode with the ferocity and power of this woman, yet never does it sound like mere banging or showing off -- instead, as if she's testing the limits of self, of instrument, and of the music. But it's not all about strength and loudness either -- she's capable of a poet's intimacy with a real lyric impulse, as the Ballade readily demonstrates . . . There is no pianist whose next recording I anticipate more eagerly than Lisitsa's.