Liszt: Piano Concertos

Master Lisztian Jorge Bolet plays the composer’s most popular large piano works

Jorge Bolet (1914–90) was born in Havana and studied at the Curtis Institute, Philadelphia where his piano teachers included Leopold Godowsky, Moriz Rosenthal and David Saperton. Few people are aware he also studied conducting with no less a mentor than Fritz Reiner, and – while serving with the US Army in the Far East – conducted the Japanese premiere of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. He enjoyed a busy concert career and made occasional recordings in both the USA and Europe, but success came late – it was not until Decca offered him a contract in 1978 that he was recognised by a far wider public than enthusiastic pianophiles; his benchmark series of Liszt recordings for the label brought him critical acclaim and international attention. Bolet’s recordings of Chopin, Liszt and Debussy are acknowledged as being among the finest, as are his electrifying Godowsky transcriptions, studied with the composer himself.

Bolet’s recordings of the Liszt concertos, originally made for Vox, are conducted by David Zinman. Born in New York in 1936 and a graduate of Oberlin College, Minnesota University and Tanglewood, Zinman assisted Pierre Monteux in London in 1961 and achieved early successes at the Holland Festival, which led to a long relationship with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and a series of acclaimed recording for Philips. From 1974 to 1985 he was Music Director of the Rochester Philharmonic, later taking a similar position with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. In addition to performing with many American organizations and orchestras worldwide, Zinman is currently Musical Director of the Tonhalle Orchestra, Zürich.