FRANZ LISZT Annees de Pelerinage Deuxieme Annee: Italie
Kemal Gekic (piano)
Palexa - 0520 (CD)
 Reference Recording - Lazar Berman (DG)

These splendid live performances from the 1999 International Piano Festival at Williams College reveal Kemal Gekic's prodigious growth as a Lisztian since his earlier efforts for the JVC and VAI labels. His style, to be sure, remains as capricious and subjective as ever, yet these qualities (mannerisms, perhaps?) are easily absorbed into the lyrical rhetoric typifying most of the Italian chapter of Liszt's Annees de Pelerinage. Listen to how Gekic continuously keeps the left hand accompaniments and counterlines vibrant and alive no matter how complex the right hand filigree. In the Dante Sonata he conjures up strange voicings and highly personalized phrasings, laced with murky bass lines and heart-on-sleeve melodic stresses. It may not be Liszt by-the-book, but the overall results seem more involved, spontaneous, and interesting than Frederic Chiu's recent traversals of these pieces, and they hold your attention all the way. I look forward to hearing more of Gekic's recent work, and am sorry that this release doesn't also include the Venezia e Napoli triptych. [Editor's Note: You can purchase this CD online at: www.taubman-in]
--Jed Distler