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  Lyrinx -
  LYR2216 (3 discs)
  Liszt: Années de Pèlerinage (complete) - Mûza Rubackyté
  Franz Liszt: Années de Pèlerinage (complete)

Mûza Rubackyté (piano)
Track listing:
  Classical - Instrumental
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 1

Reviews: 3

Review by wehecht March 13, 2006 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Muza Rubackyte is a pianist known to me only from recordings, but I would happily travel many miles to hear her live. While all of her recordings for Lyrinx are excellent this complete set of the Annees is the best yet. As a technical matter her playing is virtually flawless; powerful, accurate, and beautifully colored. But even more importantly under her fingers the pieces reflect Liszt's spiritual journey, not just his physical travelogue. The MC recording is simply beautiful. The ravishing colors are only part of the story. Anyone wondering whether MC has value when presenting a solo instrument needs to hear these discs. The realistic presentation of a fine instrument in an appropriate setting proves that a solo piano doesn't have to sound twenty feet wide. All in all, it's the closest thing to being there. While including purchase information may bend the rules, readers in the USA will find this set difficult to get so I feel free to stretch things a bit. I got mine from Music Direct in Chicago at

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Review by Jay-dub July 1, 2007 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is a remarkable recording. I have enjoyed it immensely, and I can recommend it, but Lazar Berman gave a fuller sense of Liszt's achievement and his recording is ultimately more satisfying.

Mûza Rubackyté is a very spontaneous-sounding pianist. She lets her intuition guide her response to the sound of the piano, and brings out a huge range of colors. Thus her playing is much more interesting than that in the recorded versions of Jorge Bolet and Jeno Jando. But on the other hand, she often fails to convey the drama of this music.

While Rubackyté is fully attuned to the brilliance and color of Liszt's piano writing, she isn't so well in touch with the programmatic content of these pieces. She doesn't communicate the poetic and narrative inspiration for the music, the material from diverse sources. Maybe she deliberately takes a modernist approach and tries to turn the music into pure, abstract art. The "Années" include some of the greatest pieces of program music ever written, but unlike Beethoven's "Les Adieux" sonata or Strauss's "Don Juan", the formal strengths in these pieces are not strong enough to hold them together as absolute music. At any rate she seems to be caught up in the moment, with a weakened sense of the big picture, and she is most successful wherre a mysterious mood is called for: "Aux cyprès (1)" is a high point in this set.

Where the music is more extraverted and mimetic, she seems a bit lost, as if she were seeking a formal logic that isn't there. Thus "Orage", which at its best suggests the sound effects of a storm in a theater, is in Rubackyté's hands an etude of vaguely stormy character. "Au bord d'une source" and "Les jeux d'eau à la Villa d'Este" can produce the scintillating effect of sunlight on bubbles and jets of water (they are really the first masterpieces of impressionistic music), but Rubackyté makes the musical lines a bit too direct.

The complete 1977 recording of the "Années" by Lazar Berman, on DG, gives a clearer sense of where the music is going at any given time and conveys a stronger connection between pianist and audience. It is definitely one of the classics of the gramophone. (I have the remaster from ca. 1990, which sounds fine; there is also a newer remaster.) Berman was fully responsive to the harmonies, but his sense of the larger narrative made him less spontaneous than Rubackyté. Since Liszt is the inventor of the piano recital, Berman was quite appropriately being a storyteller, reciting on the piano. By contrast, Rubackyté is just playing old songs.

The recorded sound of these SACD's is very distinctive: the piano is a modern Steinway, but it was recorded with tube equipment. This box thus constitutes my most vivid experience of the "tube sound". Several aficionados of tube gear have expressed approval (on the discussion thread here) of the sound quality of this box, so it is probably representative of the technology at its best. When I first listened to the recording, before I got my SACD player, I thought the sound was very nice: a delicate, harmonious sound unlike any piano I've ever heard. Until I read the package I was convinced that the piano was of an unusual make. And as long as I only listened to RBCD, that impression remained: a beautiful sound, but just vaguely non-Steinway.

Going to SACD stereo, I was immediately struck by a purer tone quality and greater sense of power to the instrument. I was also struck by a huge amount of hiss. There seems to be a lot of high-frequency noise in the DSD master that got chopped off by the PCM encoder's brickwall filter. It took me months to get used to that (I still don't listen to the SACD layer on headphones), and my reward was that I heard the distortion pattern in exquisite detail. I got to experience the illusion that my amplifier wasn't working right, that louder passages were hollow, metallic, and constricted. I'm used to it now, but every time there's a bass note above a mezzo-piano it sounds muffled. I was happier with the sound on RBCD.

If this is the characteristic sound of tubes, then I'm glad to have it in one of my recordings and not in my own equipment. I do not want to explore tube electronics any further.

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Review by JJ March 5, 2011 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Covering more than forty years, the composition of “Years of Pilgrimage” by Franz Liszt was the fruit of many voyages. Impressions — even deep thoughts — emerged, for the work embraces both the one and the all. It is for the piano that the Hungarian composer wrote them for. “…My piano is for me like what the frigate is for the sailor, what the thoroughbred is for the Arab, and even more so, for my piano, up until now, is me, it is my word, my life; it is the intimate depository of everything that agitated my brain during the most heated days of my youth; it is in these that are all my desires, all my dreams, all my joys and all my pains. Its chords trembled under all my passions, its docile keys obeyed all my caprices… In my view, it holds the first place in the hierarchy of instruments; it is the generally the most cultivated, the most popular of all; this importance and this popularity, it owes them in part to the harmonic power it alone possesses; and as a result of this power, to the ability to summarize and concentrate in it all of art.” Thus spoke Liszt. To celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of the artist’s birth, the label Lyrinx is reissuing everything the Lithuanian pianist Mûza Rubackyté recorded of him in 2003. And the pleasure is still just as living, burning, the enchantment just as powerful before an interpretation of poetic force rarely attained. Everything is admirably built in this intensive musical flow wherein passion is side by side with finesse and emotion. A palpable emotion like a trembling that won’t let you be, and leads you on in this singular voyage. The exemplary sound recording in pure DSD is the bow on the box of this landmark reference of Liszt’s great work. A red-letter recording.

Jean-Jacques Millo
Translation Lawrence Schulman

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Works: 4  

Franz Liszt - Années de pèlerinage I (Première année: Suisse), S. 160
Franz Liszt - Années de pèlerinage II (Deuxième année: Italie), S. 161
Franz Liszt - Années de pèlerinage II (Supplément: Venezia e Napoli), S. 162
Franz Liszt - Années de pèlerinage III (Troisième année), S. 163