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The Greatest Present-Day Liszt Pianist

As readers of this blog may recall, I have twice (re: Vladimir Horowitz on Feb. 1; re: “Interpreting Liszt” on Feb. 18) written about Mykola Suk – in my experience, the most galvanizing present-day exponent of the piano music of Franz Liszt.
My son Bernie, with whom I joust about such matters, has just apprised me that Suk’s epic 2008 performance of the Liszt B minor Sonata at the Mannes International Keyboard Institute and Festival is now available on youtube (“Mykola Suk — IKIF 2008”). There are two installments, totalling10 minutes of the piece. You can hear the same performance in better sound on Music&Arts (CD 1234), coupled with two Hungarian Rhapsodies and an incendiary re-imagining of the Dante Sonata (2005) even bolder and more remarkable than Suk’s B minor Sonata interpretation. (You can also access the 2008 sonata performance, in its entirety, via the Post-Classical Ensemble website.)
As with any great pianist, to watch Suk is to discover his distinctive aural signature made visible. While none of these versions of his Mannes performance capture his volcanic dynamic range, or the full value of the colors he wafts from the stage, the organic application of shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers – of the entire physical mechanism – arrestingly complements the sonic experience, as does his self-evident immersion, body and soul, in the Lisztian cosmos.
I am gratified by the responses I have so far received from listeners new to Suk, and eager to spread the word.


  1. I wonder if there’s a Youtube video of Suk playing Liszt’s “Evening Harmonies”. I love this piano piece and have been trying to master it myself for many years now.
    I’m glad you introduced me to another Liszt interpreter. I’ve always been a fan of Jorge Bolet’s Liszt performances myself.

  2. MIkhail Kaykov says:

    I heard the Mannes Liszt Sonata live, quite an overwhelming experience.
    -Mikhail Kaykov

  3. Horowitz is the greatest Liszt interpreter in my opinion. He was a magician on the piano. Of course he isn’t a present day pianist, so this is a little off topic. But, Suk is certainly a good nomination for the greatest interpreter of Liszt’s piano works.
    – Cheers

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