The Best Dance of Death?

My friend the great Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire sent me this link a few days ago without comment:

Here’s my comment. As you can see, it’s an unpublished performance of Liszt’s Totentanz conducted by Rafael Kubelik with Freire as soloist. For  me this is the most thrilling, convincing performance of the work I have ever heard – and that includes superb recordings by Raymon Lewenthal, Shura Cherkassky, Sergio Tiempo and Freire himself (Berlin Classics coupled Totentanz with both of Liszt’s piano concertos conducted by Michel Plasson).

It’s a work that in some hands can sound merely shallow and bombastic. This one makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. The music has a grim, sinister undertone to it. Freire adds menace and despair to the mix while tossing off the most challenging passagework as if it were child’s play. Stunning.

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