Author Topic: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography  (Read 23081 times)

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Offline sanantonio

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Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« on: June 11, 2015, 03:30:34 AM »
I have assigned myself the task of creating a selective discography of the recordings of Franz Liszt and hope to benefit from the collective wisdom of GMG.  I want your recommendations for those recordings that you think are in some way special, the crème de la crème.  I realize there are already threads for specific Liszt works, but this thread will be a place for people to post about noteworthy recordings from his entire oeuvre.

 :)


Offline sanantonio

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2015, 03:52:13 AM »
I'll kick things off with this one ~



Claudio Arrau might represent something of a direct-line tradition of Liszt interpretation since he was taught by a student of Liszt.  Arrau brings out the poetry in this work which in the wrong hands can descend into an empty technical display.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2015, 04:35:22 AM »
Off the beaten track of the œuvre:



I am not authoritative to call Alain's recording definitive, but this is certainly a "two great tastes that go great together" recording.
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2015, 04:51:43 AM »
I'll throw in two:


Jando is not generally a favorite of mine, but he just kills it here. Fantastic performance!



Fiorentino plays the six rhapsodies here so well. The others are good too. A joy just to hear the performance. I love the precision in phrasing.


There is some Wild and Bolet I like as well, but these are the two that immediately came to mind.
Offenbach gets a raw deal in recordings considering his talent! For a discussion of this outstanding composer too little recorded: http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,5572.

Offline sanantonio

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2015, 04:57:26 AM »
Off the beaten track of the œuvre:



I am not authoritative to call Alain's recording definitive, but this is certainly a "two great tastes that go great together" recording.

The organ works are wonderful, thanks for this suggestion.

Offline sanantonio

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2015, 05:00:29 AM »
I'll throw in two:


Jando is not generally a favorite of mine, but he just kills it here. Fantastic performance!



Fiorentino plays the six rhapsodies here so well. The others are good too. A joy just to hear the performance. I love the precision in phrasing.


There is some Wild and Bolet I like as well, but these are the two that immediately came to mind.

Interesting comment about Jando, he seems to have suffered because of the plethora of Naxos recordings.  Agree on Bolet and Wild.  Pollini's Liszt is a favorite of mine - he uses the sustain pedal sparingly and brings a clarity and restraint to the music which is very enjoyable.


Offline Mandryka

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2015, 06:07:11 AM »
Here are the first few which came to mind



This guy Polanzoni has IMO the ideal sensibility and voice for Liszt. Otherwise the complete songs with Nikolai Gedda is a good reliable reference. And the Sonnets sung by Placido Domingo, on his Carnegie Hall recital CD, is wonderful.



Chorzempa plays the variations on Weinen Klagen . . . Only Chorzempa has managed to make Liszt's organ works sound worth the trouble hearing to me, and it really is fabulous. The rest of the CD contains some transcriptions, which don't interest me.



I don't find Liszt's transcriptions very interesting myself, but Idil Biret's performances here make them great to hear -- contemplative, internalised and hence transcendent.





Ernst Levy doing the B minor sonata. There are a handful of outstanding performances of the sonata but this seems to be at once deep and fresh. For me the best bit of the music is the nine or so chords towards the end, and Levy is wonderful there. He's also exciting in the the fugue,  intense and ecstatic in the central passage and the opening is indescribably creepy.



Raymond Lewanthal plays Hexameron. This is the best recording of Hexameron I know, both in terms of the sheer elan of the performance and the recorded sound. Hexameron has to be the most exciting and entertaining music Liszt had a hand in creating.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 06:38:42 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2015, 06:11:13 AM »
This is the finest single CD of Liszt tone poems I know.



Superb Bis sound (percussion and brass particularly well captured), tasteful but exciting interpretations. It received a 10/10 Insider Review from the Hurwitzer:

"My, but this man knows his Liszt! Les préludes has grandeur, athletic vigor, and a genuine rush of excitement in the closing pages, with nary a trace of gratuitous bombast."

"...at the end of Tasso’s allegro sections Frübeck conjures an ideally rich, dark sound, perfectly balanced, never crude. Similarly, the much-maligned Festklänge displays nobility without excessive weight or rhythmic ponderousness. Best of all, Orpheus’ sweetness avoids any hint of tackiness, thanks in large part to sensitive phrasing applied to warm, cultivated string sonorities."


Sarge
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 06:33:58 AM by Sergeant Rock »
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Offline Brian

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2015, 06:39:21 AM »
I'll throw in two:


Jando is not generally a favorite of mine, but he just kills it here. Fantastic performance!
Agreed - Jando's Hungarian Rhapsodies, actually, are my favorite Jando recording, truly fantastic.

I like my Hungarian Rhapsodies to be a little understated - stick to Liszt's dynamics, rather than introducing histrionics and improvised virtuoso flourishes. My two favorite Hungarian Rhapsody sets, by a long distance, are Jeno Jando and Misha Dichter. (Although Jando does improvise once or twice.)

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2015, 06:45:48 AM »
Here are the first few which came to mind



This guy Polanzoni has IMO the idea sensibility and voice for Liszt. Otherwise the complete songs with Nikolai Gedda is a good reliable reference. And the Sonnets sung by Placido Domingo, on his Carnegie Hall recital CD, is wonderful.

I just purchased all three volumes of these Hyperion song recordings but have not listened to them yet.  Looking forward to them even more now.

Quote


Chorzempa plays the variations on Weinen Klagen . . . Only Chorzempa has managed to make Liszt's organ works sound worth the trouble hearing to me, and it really is fabulous. The rest of the CD contains some transcriptions, which don't interest me.

Thanks for another organ suggestion; these works have interested me as soon as I knew of them.

Quote


I don't find Liszt's transcriptions very interesting myself, but Idil Biret's performances here make them great to hear -- contemplative, internalised and hence transcendent.

Yes, his transcriptions have solicited many complaints.  Even during his lifetime they were seen as cheap and beneath him - however, with the right treatment I think they can bring out aspects of the originals that might remain otherwise unknown.

Quote


Ernst Levy doing the B minor sonata. There are a handful of outstanding performances of the sonata but this seems to be at once deep and fresh. For me the best bit of the music is the nine or so chords towards the end, and Levy is wonderful there. He's also exciting in the the fugue,  intense and ecstatic in the central passage and the opening is indescribably creepy.

I am beginning my traversal through the piano music with several recordings of the sonata, so many thanks for this recommendation.  Currently I like Argerich and Pollini a lot.  Also, Brendel and Richter are superb.  But there are so many recordings, it is nice to receive a suggestion for a version that may get crowded out either by more recent recordings or the standard list.

Quote


Raymond Lewanthal plays Hexameron. This is the best recording of Hexameron I know, both in terms of the sheer elan of the performance and the recorded sound. Hexameron has to be the most exciting and entertaining music Liszt had a hand in creating.

I don't know anything about this work, but part of the problem is that there are so many works in his catalog.  Howard Shelley managed to fill 99 CDs of just the piano music. So, I look forward to hearing this work.

Thanks.   :)

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2015, 06:47:11 AM »
Yes, his transcriptions have solicited many complaints.  Even during his lifetime they were seen as cheap and beneath him -

How very 19th Century!

8)
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Offline sanantonio

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2015, 06:47:20 AM »
This is the finest single CD of Liszt tone poems I know.



Superb Bis sound (percussion and brass particularly well captured), tasteful but exciting interpretations. It received a 10/10 Insider Review from the Hurwitzer:

"My, but this man knows his Liszt! Les préludes has grandeur, athletic vigor, and a genuine rush of excitement in the closing pages, with nary a trace of gratuitous bombast."

"...at the end of Tasso’s allegro sections Frübeck conjures an ideally rich, dark sound, perfectly balanced, never crude. Similarly, the much-maligned Festklänge displays nobility without excessive weight or rhythmic ponderousness. Best of all, Orpheus’ sweetness avoids any hint of tackiness, thanks in large part to sensitive phrasing applied to warm, cultivated string sonorities."


Sarge

Thanks for bringing up the orchestral works - the tone poems are wonderful, IMO.  Your description certainly sparks my interest in these readings.

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2015, 06:50:22 AM »
Agreed - Jando's Hungarian Rhapsodies, actually, are my favorite Jando recording, truly fantastic.

I like my Hungarian Rhapsodies to be a little understated - stick to Liszt's dynamics, rather than introducing histrionics and improvised virtuoso flourishes. My two favorite Hungarian Rhapsody sets, by a long distance, are Jeno Jando and Misha Dichter. (Although Jando does improvise once or twice.)

The Hungarian Rhapsodies have not been works I've warmed to yet.  Maybe Jando is the key to unlock these works in my imagination.  Improvisation is part of Liszt's style, so some here and there is good, IMO.  Unless of course if it's not.

 ;)

Offline Todd

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2015, 06:52:55 AM »
Claudio Arrau might represent something of a direct-line tradition of Liszt interpretation since he was taught by a student of Liszt.


Liszt had hundreds of students in his career, so I'm not sold on the idea that a pedagogical line stretching back to Liszt is especially meaningful.  That written, it is possible to get some Liszt recordings from some pianists who studied personally with Liszt.  Moriz Rosenthal comes to mind.



Some of my favorites:





(If you can find the twofer with recordings by Jeanne Marie Darre, all the better.)












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Offline sanantonio

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2015, 06:57:20 AM »

Liszt had hundreds of students in his career, so I'm not sold on the idea that a pedagogical line stretching back to Liszt is especially meaningful.  That written, it is possible to get some Liszt recordings from some pianists who studied personally with Liszt.  Moriz Rosenthal comes to mind.

Humbug!   :D  Point taken.

Quote
Some of my favorites:


I just happened to be listening to this one right now.  I understand why.

Quote


(If you can find the twofer with recordings by Jeanne Marie Darre, all the better.)










Except for the Friere I've not heard any of these - so more to add to my stack.  So many recordings came out in 2011 because of the bicentennial of Liszt's birth, it is hard to keep up.

Thanks.

Offline sanantonio

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2015, 07:04:15 AM »
If you want to see the formidable score as Zimerman plays the B Minor...

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/IeKMMDxrsBE" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/IeKMMDxrsBE</a>

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2015, 07:47:29 AM »
There aren't so many good recordings of the sonata - in most of them I lose focus for most of the middle. Apart from Levy, I remember enjoying an Arrau one (maybe the one you cited, I think so), a late one from Richter on Philips, Cor de Groot, one from Sofronitsky (can't remember which), one from Cherkassky (can't remember which) and Valentin Giorgu. Cortot and the early Horowitz a notch below,

If you like the organ music and you like what Chorzempa does with Wienen, Klangen . . .  I can let you have Chorzempa doing the rest, my own transfer.

The problem I have with the transcriptions is that they don't do anything other than add annoying ornament. For really great transcriptions you need to go to D'Anglebert.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 07:55:48 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2015, 07:59:11 AM »
The Hungarian Rhapsodies have not been works I've warmed to yet.  Maybe Jando is the key to unlock these works in my imagination.  Improvisation is part of Liszt's style, so some here and there is good, IMO.  Unless of course if it's not.

 ;)

Listen to this, Busoni playing HR 13. Spiritual. Recorded on dog biscuits.

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Offline sanantonio

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2015, 08:08:00 AM »
There aren't so many good recordings of the sonata - in most of them I lose focus for most of the middle. Apart from Levy, I remember enjoying an Arrau one (maybe the one you cited, I think so), a late one from Richter on Philips, Cor de Groot, one from Sofronitsky (can't remember which), one from Cherkassky (can't remember which) and Valentin Giorgu. Cortot and the early Horowitz a notch below,

Some of the more recent recordings are very good, IMO: Hamelin; Pollini; the already mentioned Zimerman.  What all these have in common is a complete command of the music, no shoddy split octaves, etc. - and an understated approach.  Liszt suffers from over indulgence in the virtuostic aspects.

Quote
If you like the organ music and you like what Chorzempa does with Wienen, Klangen . . .  I can let you have Chorzempa doing the rest, my own transfer.

I may ask you for that - but I'm okay for now.

Quote
The problem I have with the transcriptions is that they don't do anything other than add annoying ornament. For really great transcriptions you need to go to D'Anglebert.

I think you have to look at the historical context for the Liszt transcriptions in order to fully appreciate their worth.  Liszt was a tireless promoter of other composers' music, e.g. Berlioz and even lesser composers whose work he wished to promote and whose music (even Berlioz) was not often performed.  These transcriptions served a duel function of bringing the music to a wider audience and also to showcase the partitioning orchestral music successfully to the piano.  Also, there are two types of these kinds of works that Liszt wrote: the orchestral "reductions" (which translated the orchestra score to the piano fairly directly.  Yes, there are filigree insertions, but he usually provided an ossia for anyone who wished to leave them out) and the fantasias which Liszt wrote using the themes of another composer, but created entirely new works. 

The latter works are arguably more original, but even the orchestral reductions are worthwhile and in the right hands offer a new reading of a known work.

Offline Todd

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Re: Franz Liszt - A Critical Discography
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2015, 08:08:13 AM »
Recorded on dog biscuits.



Outstanding description.
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