CD REVIEWS - Classical

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LISZT: HUNGARIAN RHAPSODIES (Hyperion 2CDs)

It looks like an everyday release of standard repertory - until you absorb the rest of the packaging information on this boxed set which tells you it's Volume 57 in Leslie Howard's series of the complete Liszt solo piano repertoire. And then

you do the arithmetic. One of the most extraordinary projects in recording history, this Liszt series has amounted to 95 CDs, 117 hours of music, and a near-unnatural dedication to a composer whose legacy is questionable in the reckoning of many pianists. Howard, these days, is its most persuasive advocate. He plays it musically, the swank reined in. And in saving the Hungarian Rhapsodies until last - for yes this is the final issue that completes the whole thing - he has saved what you might consider the best- known of the concert music. But not all the Rhapsodies are as well-known: there are perhaps a dozen that you practically never hear. So to the end, this series bristles with discoveries. It's been a grand achievement. You can only wonder what he'll turn to next.

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