RECORDS / Classical: Liszt - An Italian Recital (Stephen Hough. Virgin 07777 5922226)

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Very, very occasionally you find a pianist with the interpretative genius to resurrect some corner of the repertory you'd left for dead, and that's what Stephen Hough does in this mesmerising disc of Liszt: transparent, pure, unforced and unaffected, with a soft-spoken intelligence that seems to have absorbed the heavy issues in the music at a level deep enough to be unburdened by them. The playing is direct and fresh, however sombre the pieces, which all relate to Liszt's romantic/spiritual love affair with Italy and mostly come from the Annees de Pelerinage.