Our 2021 Winner Alim Beisembayev recorded his first disc for our partners at Warner Classics at the end of April. Tackling Liszt’s mighty Transcendental études, read on to learn more about his choice of repertoire and what he made of his first professional recording session:

“Ever since I was a child I had been hearing about the unplayable ‘Feux Follets’ and the monstrous ‘Mazeppa’ which I always thought would be unreachable to me. I always listened to the legendary recordings by Kissin, Richter and Cziffra with awe for their pianism as well as for the music itself which is so full of emotion.

A lot of people in their early stages of playing the piano have gone through learning Czerny’s etudes which have become essential for the purposes of strengthening one’s technique. I then remember when the very exciting discoveries of Chopin and Liszt etudes took place, which demand pianism of such a high level in order to do justice to these works. The ‘etude’ was taken to a new level by these two giants who endowed it with a new level of poetry and artistry. They have become masterpieces rather than mere exercises which is what the ‘etude’ can often be thought of.

This was a first studio recording session for me and although nervous I was able to do justice to the 12 beasts! I enjoyed every minute of working through them. I thank Warner Classics and everyone else who made it possible. It was a very special opportunity to delve deep into every detail of Liszt’s writing for 3 days in a church in Hampstead. With the given luxury of a gorgeous Steinway which I was able to select from Steinway Hall in London, beautiful acoustics and a knowledgeable team of ears to help me achieve the colours needed. I certainly learnt a lot throughout the process, especially the differences between playing to the microphones and to a full hall. Unfortunately, the opportunity of having the perfect piano, lovely acoustics and the possibility to restart a take will not always be available. I really look forward to the final material being shared when it is released in early-2023.”

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