Haochen Zhang performs a monument of piano literature
The Transcendental Études form a cycle of twelve pieces whose composition began in 1826 and was completed in 1851. Starting from the idea of an encyclopædic collection which, in the manner of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Liszt’s Transcendental Études became something of a seismograph of his compositional aesthetic, first strongly under the influence of Paganini, later more in the style of character pieces. These études are among the most difficult works ever written for the piano. Together with Chopin’s Études, they serve as a basis for piano technique, some of them already prefiguring musical impressionism, and they had a significant influence on subsequent piano music, most notably that of Debussy, Rachmaninov, Bartók, and Ligeti.
In 2009, Haochen Zhang was the youngest pianist ever to receive the Gold Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Since then, he has captivated audiences worldwide with a unique combination of deep musical sensitivity, fearless imagination and spectacular virtuosity. After two releases devoted to concertos (Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky, BIS-2381 and Beethoven, BIS-2581), Zhang returns to the solo recital with this disc devoted to some of the most important works in the repertoire of modern pianists.