by Jed Distler
As a budding music student in the mid-1970's, newly converted to the gospel according to Franz Liszt, my objective in life was how to get to know this vast repertoire on a limited budget. So when Jerome Rose's complete "Annees de pelerinage" appeared in the form of a Vox Box, how could I refuse? It wasn't just inexpensive, it was dirt cheap. While the recordings offered zilch in the way of nuance, colour and dynamic range, you still could realise that Rose was a knowing, confident Lisztian: bold, direct, more interested in getting the narrative across than dulcet tones. That said, a marvellous sense of melodic projection shapes and sustains lyrical, instrospective selections such as "Pastorale", "Les cloches de Geneve", "Sposalizio" and the "Sonetto 123 del Petrarca". Rose's gauntly reproduced sonority certainly befits Book 3's bleaker, starker selections (the second and longer of the two pieces entitled "Aux cypres de la Villa d'Este"). And when flat-out virtuosity is called for, Rose responds in kind, as the gaunt propulsion of his octave work in "Orage", "Vallee d'Obermann" and the "Dante Sonata" bears out. I only question Rose's unconvincingly slow tempo for "Eglogue" - hardly the "Allegretto con moto" Liszt had in mind. While this release may prove a tough sell in light of today's competition, one certainly hears why it was held in high regard.