Liszt Piano Works, Vol. 2
Most of the items on Side 2 date from 1838-9 and those on Side 1 from 1846, these being the two periods during which Liszt made the majority of his 60-odd transcriptions of Schubert's songs. Going through Jorge Bolet's selection of a dozen, and others, one is again struck by the extraordinary variety of resource that Liszt brings to turning these items into small poems for the piano. This is a good selection in itself and in that it overlaps with John Bingham's LP of these works (Meridian E77019, 9/79), which some readers will have, by only four items. One of these is inevitably Erlkonig, in which I tend to prefer Bingham (and Lazar Berman, on CBS 76612, 4/78—nla), though Bolet leaves no doubt of the dramatic tension of the occasion portrayed.
Another overlapping occurs with Die Forelle, Liszt's transcription of which is, to my ears, a considerable enhancement of the original, at least when played as it is here. In fact the aptness of these transcriptions (Lebewohl! for example) is remarkable, and the pianist responds with imaginative sympathy. Der Muller und der Bach receives a most affecting performance, while Bolet's account of Auf dem Wasser zu singen can stand with Egon Petri's exquisite 1929 recording (HMV mono HQM1112, 12/67—nla). Detailed comment on each of the dozen tracks scarcely seems necessary, but the digital recording, made in the Kingsway Hall, London, in 1981, must be generally commended. One notices, however, that Erlkonig gives rise to a certain roughness, as it did on Bingham's LP.'