Liszt 200 - how was it for you?

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RE: Liszt 200 - how was it for you?

kev wrote:

naupilus wrote:

 ...I need more time to work out in my own mind what it is that is being communicated by the composer (and consequently the musician).

This week we had the Piano Sonata in B minor (30 minutes of music cultivated from 4 notes - played by LLyr Williams [aspergers syndrome]) - some people seem to think it's about Faust but Liszt didn't say according to my group leader.  The listener seems to have a dilemma when the composer doesn't say.  What's your plan in that scenario naupilus?

We also had the Piano Concerto #2 (not played much today perhaps because of lack of catchy melody).  Also 'The way of the cross'.  Apparently, Liszt had plans for the new organ installed during cathedral refurbishment but I don't have details of that yet.

 

Kev

When I wrote about 'what is being communicated' I was not thinking necessarily of a specific program, but rather what Liszt is trying to communicate in terms of feelings, metaphysics or whatever else you want to call the magical element in music. So if I am still trying to work out the music, that is my problem - where does it fit with me as a listener? That sounds like a terrible answer to your question, but I cannot think of something more cogent at present!

Amazed you think the 2nd piano concerto has no tunes! I love the piece, all splashy and then incredibly delicate (think of the dialogue between cello and piano in the section un poco meno messo. Why do I think of Degas there? Then suddenly the puckish skitter of flute, piano and with a symbol clash we enter a world of slashing glissando and a strutting march, confident and cavalier. Can you imagine what it must have been like when Liszt crashed throug the final moments - rock star status ensured. 

(Embarassed admission: All of the above, rather purple prose was written while listening to Stephen Hough's new recording of the A major piano concerto. Maybe not daring enough to replace Zimerman in my mind but still sensational. So good I am starting it again...)

Naupilus

RE: Liszt 200 - how was it for you?

kev wrote:

Does your 3 volumes have plenty of colour pictures or is it all text?

Unfortunately all the colour pictures are in my son's picture books! But Walker is not a particualrly hard read - difficult to read anything too tough with a toddler running riot around the apartment.

On a more serious note my one growing reservation is Walker's continual need to point out how inaccurate Liszt's previous biographers have been. I don't think he does this to brag about his own research skills but it does get a bit tiresome. Probably why he needed a third volume...

 

Naupilus

RE: Liszt 200 - how was it for you?

The piano #2 and tunes - my group leader pointed to the bold opening of the #1 and said that there was no comparable phrase in the #2 (which has a quiet opening).

Embarrassment and Stephen Hough - I admit to checking my bank statement when listening to music at home but make up for it by attending concerts.

I might buy the Hough recording.  I have the Zimerman and Berman but haven't pinned down a preference yet because the music is not familiar enough.  I recently made comparisons with Glenn Gould and Murray Perahia playing the Goldberg Variations and Perahia won easily in the end, but it took time to digest the styles.

Walker and inaccuracies - I wonder if he criticises others in the battle for the 'undisputed authority' title?  Jeremy Nicholas ('The Great Composers') labels Liszt as 'a mass of contradictions' -  maybe that causes disputes.

Degas - would that be famous 'Ballet Class'?

RE: Liszt 200 - how was it for you?

naupilus wrote:

 ...but what I am really hoping is someone will give us another recoring of the Busoni version - odd and quirky that it seems to be (I have not heard it yet).

I'm not clear naupilus - is there something wrong with the Sara Davis Buechner version and what have you not heard?

RE: Liszt 200 - how was it for you?

naupilus wrote:

What do you think of the Buechner version - is it worth listening to?

Naupilus, I haven't decided whether to buy the CD yet - I've listened to it on Spotify a couple of times and see it as more of a curiosity than a 'must have' CD.  But that might change.

Busoni wasn't on my radar until you mentioned him above, but he maybe now because of the following...

http://anya-laurence.suite101.com/classical-music-review-bachbusoni-cd-a...

&

'A titanic pianist, an intrepid conductor, and a first-rate musical thinker, Busoni remains isolated & enigmatic as a composer, for all the lip service done his music'...

Ferruccio's father, 'seeing his son a potential Mozart, made him practice four sequential hours every day (surprisingly feeding him Bach and other German composers)...'

Greene's Biographical 1986

RE: Liszt 200 - how was it for you?

Kev

Busoni left few recordings but he is rated by many as the best pianist since Liszt. He was also a great composer, both for his magnificent Bach transcriptions and some of his own works (Naxos has been ploughing through them with some success, but you need to supplement this with Pontinen on CPO and other discs).

He also wrote an odd beast of a piano concerto, which divides opinions (although I love it, I can see why it never became core repetoire) and some special orchestral works, most fo which are pretty short in length.

Busoni's link to Liszt is interesting. Busoni gave a series of all Liszt concerts that made people sit up and listen again to the composer at a time when he was not so recognised. He also came up with the glorious phrase, "Music is sonorous air".

Naupilus

RE: Liszt 200 - how was it for you?

naupilus wrote:

He also wrote an odd beast of a piano concerto, which divides opinions...

Naupilus, I enjoy some controversy.  Spotify have this by John Ogden so I'll give it a try and get back to you.  At over 70 minutes though, I'll have to factor it in somewhere in my busy listening schedule. :-)

Do you listen to any other lesser known composers that I should know about?

RE: Liszt 200 - how was it for you?

p.s. I see that Presto Classical have some interesting discs under Busoni.  I've ordered the Naxos A-Z to start with.  The other discs I'm not so sure of - I'm a bit wary of mechanical reproducing pianos.

RE: Liszt 200 - how was it for you?

kev wrote:

Do you listen to any other lesser known composers that I should know about?

Kev

 

I am no expert and have over the last few years developed a rather random need to explore all sorts of music, with varying degrees of pleasure. So any tps below come with the caveat that they are personal choices.

Martinu - some really great music. Start with the string quartets, violin concertos and possibly one or two of the symphonies.

Berwald - lovely symphonies, very much in the mould of Mendelssohn.

Alkan - new passion of the year for me. Contemporary of Liszt and Chopin, almost forgotten.

Hindemith - He needs very careful listening but really there is so much more to his music than the usual orchestral pieces and the kammermusik. His operas run the gamut...

Harry Partch - only for the adventurous (i.e. those who think John Cage is interesting, but too wrapped up in the establishment). A true west coast maverick - is it music? Is it classical music? Harry would probably say no to the latter.

Wolfgang Rihm - you have to like modern music. You have to like music that takes few prisoners. If you do, then Rihm is one of the most interesting composers at work today. Start with 'Jagden und Formen' and the concerto pieces.

Naupilus

RE: Liszt 200 - how was it for you?

Thanks for that Naupilus - I like to stray out of my comfort zone sometimes and the non-expert opinion is valuable when in the mood for trying something different.  I'll be trying all your suggestions in the next few days.

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