High time to bump this thread.
Vol. 26 (2 CDs) of the Leslie Howard Complete Piano Music
In general, this or that composer´s juvenilia and early works often get a dismissive treatment, as irrelevant and uninteresting trifles. This might be true in some cases, but certainly not in Liszt
´s (nor Mozart
´s, for that matter). And the best evidence for that is the fact that in his mature years he incessantly reworked and recycled themes or even whole works from his youth, finding in them an inexhaustible reservoir of inspiration. Young Liszt certainly had ideas which mature Liszt used time and again.
The most consistent of the lot are the Twelve Etudes
op. 6, S 136 (if you think Hoboken numbering is confusing, try Searle: it´s baffling), which later were to become the Douze Etudes d´execution transcedentale, composed in 1826, and the Apparitions
S 155, from 1834, which contain the first version of Liebestraeume No. 2. I wonder how many of those who dismiss on principle (or rather prejudice) any juvenilia would infer, upon hearing the former without any background information, that they are the work of a 15-year teen?
To be sure, there are many feuillets d´album
, variations and other minor pieces here which are not profound or challenging, but then again neither they were meant to be: Liszt composed them for his own pleasure, and charming undoubtedly they are. One can imagine the boy sitting at the piano, coming up with a little waltz or bagatelle.
The soundworld of the works recorded here is not always recognizably Lisztian but always unmistakably Romantic, a mixture of poetry and elan painted on the canvas of youthful dreams and hopes.
Excellent sonics and performance. Highly recommended.