Liszt?

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Liszt?

Mediocrity? Great composer? Revolutionary? Unfairly neglected? Overrated? 

There are a handful of pieces I play from time to time - mostly piano pieces - but I am aware that there is a lot of stuff out there I don't know. Apart from the piano works (100 CDs worth), there are large-scale symphonic works, piano concertos, choral pieces, lieder, sacred works, chamber works, transcriptions........

Attitudes to him among classical music fans seems to be somewhat polarised. There are those who think he was nothing more than a bombastic, flashy showman and there are those (like Brendel), who think he wrote some of the most profound music every written. 

As far as I know, I don't think he has ever cropped up on this forum - except in occasional disparaging asides (see the Schumann thread). Which is surprising, given his importance in the history of music. Apart from his supreme importance as a piano virtuoso, he is said, among other things, to have invented the tone poem and to have laid the groundwork (both in terms of orchestration and general musical development) for Wagnerian and post-Wagnerian music. 

My feeling, based on just a fairly small sample of works - including the consolations, the piano sonata, the Anees de pelerinage - is that he is well worth investigating, but I would interested to see what others think. Does anyone out there listen to him regularly, or have favourite pieces? Anyone count him among the true greats?

Again another composer who

Again another composer who divides opinion. His two piano concertos are played too often for him to be classed as neglected perhaps. Though I personally prefer the Schumann.

 

I have heard Lang Lang's interpretations of his solo piano music and quite enjoyed it, though I know others find it irritating. As for his Faust symphony, he doesn't seem to have Bruckner's command of large scale symphonic structure. Is that because we are comparing a pianist with an organist?

 

DSM

 

 

 

DarkSkyMan wrote:

DarkSkyMan wrote:

Again another composer who divides opinion. His two piano concertos are played too often for him to be classed as neglected perhaps.

DSM

Well, given the enormous amount he composed and which is rarely performed, I suppose you could still make a case for him being neglected. 2011 was apparently the bi-centenary celebration of his life and work............I am not sure anyone actually noticed.

I don't know the Lang Lang, but I did notice his Liszt got unusually good views (unusual for LL, that is, who usually gets a well deserved hammering). I'll have a look on Spotify later........

Liszt: the uneven but great...

Of course, Liszt bi-centenary was noticed and celebrated enough even in this forum. A former but very good member of this forum, using the pseudonym Naupilus, has initiated a thread on Liszt. He had explored his works well and he appreciated the composer a lot. I think it was on the "Recordings" section. If you retrieve it (provided that the esteemed magazine has not lost any data during the last restructuring), you may find enough answers to most of your questions.

From my side, I can repeat what has been the consensus of the pianists and professors I know: Liszt, in his Piano Music is uneven: he wrote an immense output of works that cannot possibly be all of the same interest or quality. However when he is good, he is one of the greatest ever. Works like the Sonata in b minor or Les Annes de Pelerinage are monumental masterpieces, second to none.

The rest of his Opus is also uneven, but his Orchestral Music has some peaks: the Symphonic Poems, his Faust Symphony and some of his Songs are superb as well. His Chamber Music is small, not significant but has enough charm. Some of his Choral Music is worth the try.

As for recordings, there is an abundance of them. Since it is getting late here, I'll come with some suggestions tomorrow.

Parla

Liszt's B minor sonata

Jane - a younger Martin Roscoe did a cracking job on Liszt's B minor sonata on an album called 'A Liszt Recital'. Don't know if it's on CD transfer though. Like you I've bashed my way through the odd piece for piano - the Consolations are nice but not easy!

 

Added later - the album is on Harlequin records and dates from 1987. Martin Roscoe was born in 1952 and I think is currently a piano tutor at the RAM. (I think). There are of course probably other good performances of the B minor sonata by others...

Fraz Jo - disapntd. Bn ringin this grl al week. No ansr...looks lke she changed her mnd. O well...Ldwg...

parla wrote:

parla wrote:

Of course, Liszt bi-centenary was noticed and celebrated enough even in this forum. A former but very good member of this forum, using the pseudonym Naupilus, has initiated a thread on Liszt. He had explored his works well and he appreciated the composer a lot. I think it was on the "Recordings" section. If you retrieve it (provided that the esteemed magazine has not lost any data during the last restructuring), you may find enough answers to most of your questions. Parla

A little before my time.......but just had a read through. I've brought it back from the dead, if anyone else is interested. (Liszt 200 - how was it for you?) Some interesting and well-informed exchanges - just the kind of thing I was after. Worth reading the first two or three pages; page four is a little off-piste.

Ah, the old days! The pre-lapsarian innocence of it all........ 

I love the two piano

I love the two piano concertos, as long as they aren't bashed into submission like the first was by Cheng at the Proms last week.  That was some pretty dreadful piano playing.  Listen to Barenboim's fairly recent live recording with Boulez and you get to hear a completely different piece of music.  Also wonderful is the classic Richter recording on Philips Classics.

 

As for Liszt's other works I love the Faust Symphony, piano sonata, most of the pieces from the three books of the Annees de Pelerinage (the recording with Brendel playing the first two books and Kocsis playing the third is quite something), the consolations and liebestraume, the operatic paraphrases and fantasties (Jorge Bolet - gorgeous)...  There really is some wonderful music amongst Liszt's output.

A Mixed Opinion

I have a mixed opinion about Liszt in general. There was a time when I listened to a good deal of Liszt, mainly Les Preludes and a significant amount of his solo piano works. When I hear Liszt come over the airwaves however, I usually turn it off. I really need to want to hear Liszt (which isn't very often) otherwise it becomes irritating.

Two pianists that stand out when it pertains to Liszt's solo piano works are John Ogden and Ignace Paderewski.

goofyfoot

Chamber and Choral works.

Jane, since the Piano works by Liszt are going to take the lion's share in this thread and there are an abundance of excellent recordings in the market, I will try to cover the more narrow Chamber and Choral Works field by proposing few good recordings:

- Chamber Music: a) a very interesting and well-performed disc, on Gramola, dealing with the works (or transcriptions) for Violin and Piano, with the fine violinst Thomas Albertus Irnberger.

b) the Trio Wanderer performs some works and transcriptions for Piano Trio along with Smetana's great Piano Trio, on HM. Likewise the Trio di Parma perform exclusively Chamber Works by Liszt, in an excellent recording on Concerto.

Choral Music: a) The Oratorio Christus, an impressive, quite original, almost intimate oratorio which deserves our attention and, eventually, our appreciation. The bright recording on MDG (SACD) with the Czech Philharmonic under Roman Kofman or the more straightforward of Rilling with his Stuttgart forces and some fine soloists (on Haenssler) are the two very good exponents of the work.

b) his Missa Solemnis (Grand Festival Mass), not a very pleasant but interesting enough work, in his only reliable recording on Hungaroton, with Janos Ferencsik.

c) his Requiem, again with the Hungarian forces under Janos Ferencsik (on Hungaroton. Not your familiar Messe des Morts. Quite unusual, but never indifferent.

d) Via Crucis, one of the most innovative, creative and original late work of the composer. The recording of Matthew Best and the Corydon Singers is good enough (on Hyperion), but there are some more to explore.

I guess next we may embark on his Orchestral Works.

Parla

 

Liszt's Orchestral works

Karajan's Liszt package should be on his top 10 (____), perhaps can be even narrower than that. The Mazeppa is a tour de force, with Haitink and Masur versions almost like Lullabys. There is a recording cond. by Nicolai Golovanov that is close. There is record (but probably no recording) of Karajan (as pianist) in Liszt's First Concerto at age 17 with the Mozarteum Orch. Comparing Karajan's Mazeppa (Jesus-Christus Kirche 1961) and Tasso (Philharmonie 1975), etc. , with his Schumann (J-C K 1972 - the 1st, 2nd, and Overture/Scherzo/Finale which are also very successful despite the latter having skipped notes ), etc., there is a siginificant tilt towards treble in the latter (also with smaller forces). Karajan's Schumann are actually thinner than his Brandenburgs.

janeeliotgardiner wrote:
janeeliotgardiner wrote:

Ah, the old days! The pre-lapsarian innocence of it all........ 

A section of the Dante Symphony 2nd movement may satisfy such interest.

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