Author Topic: Franz Liszt (1811-86)  (Read 46507 times)

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Offline Lethevich

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Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« on: September 28, 2008, 06:11:41 AM »
The index seems to include two threads on Ferenc, but they both have specific subjects, so here is a general one. I'll begin with this -

Wikipedia lists an additional piano concerto to his numbered two: Piano Concerto in E flat, op. posth., S. 125a. Has anyone heard this, and does it compare well to the other two?
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2008, 04:24:12 AM »
I think that it is kind of horrible to see a thread with zero replies on this forum :(  And I was absolutely astounded that no-one had responded to a thread about one of the most famous composers and influential musical figures of the 19th century!

Admittedly, when I went back to read the comments on the old threads-which appeared to deal with specific aspects of Liszt's work I did find that there had been a much wider ranging discussion but that was a full year ago now. Surely there are members who are new since then(like me :)) or others who could say something about the old boy ;D

Anyway, it is certainly true that his star seems to have faded a good deal-certainly with concert promoters-but Chandos are releasing a complete set of the symphonic poems with the BBC Philharmonic under Gianandrea Noseda and that combination did perform the Faust Symphony at the 2005 Proms.

Personally, I have long had a soft spot for (most of) the symphonic poems. I first heard 'Les Preludes' on an ancient 78 belonging to my father and loved the great swaggering theme in the middle of the piece. Beecham used to conduct 'Orpheus' a lot but I prefer 'Mazeppa',
'Tasso' and 'Hunnenschlacht'(despite its rather preposterous bombast!). As someone said in the thread a year ago, when one compares these works with the output of most of Liszt's contemporaries they sound more like orchestral masterpieces :)

I have also long admired the Faust Symphony and, in particular, the wonderfully uplifting choral ending to the work(which comes over magnificently in the Bernstein recording!).

Regarding choral works-members did mention 'Christus' but I would like to put a word in for the big Oratorio 'The Legend of Saint Elizabeth' and the splendid Hungarian Coronation March-both of which I have in good Hungaraton recordings.

Sorry, but I don't know the Piano Concerto in E flat, op.posth. although I do have the other works for piano and orchestra(Totentanz, 'De Profundis', 'Malediction' and the Fantasy on Hungarian Folk Tunes).

Yes, Humphrey Searle was a tremendous admirer of Liszt and wrote a good deal about his work.

I think that Liszt deserves a lot more from the relative obscurity into which he seems to be falling.  Mendelssohn, Schumann and Liszt were all born within 2 years of each other(1809-11). Mendelssohn and Schumann were great composers but I often think that Liszt sounds-by far-the most 'modern' of the three. (Maybe that will elicit some comment!)


Offline Lethevich

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2008, 05:29:16 PM »
Personally, I have long had a soft spot for (most of) the symphonic poems. I first heard 'Les Preludes' on an ancient 78 belonging to my father and loved the great swaggering theme in the middle of the piece. Beecham used to conduct 'Orpheus' a lot but I prefer 'Mazeppa',
'Tasso' and 'Hunnenschlacht'(despite its rather preposterous bombast!). As someone said in the thread a year ago, when one compares these works with the output of most of Liszt's contemporaries they sound more like orchestral masterpieces :)

I have also long admired the Faust Symphony and, in particular, the wonderfully uplifting choral ending to the work(which comes over magnificently in the Bernstein recording!).

Mazeppa is a favourite of mine too, along with Orpheus and Héroïde Funèbre (which is fun if listened as a work in the tradition of Berlioz). I especially love the last movement of the Dante symphony - it is perhaps my favourite moment of choral music from a concert work.

As someone said in the thread a year ago, when one compares these works with the output of most of Liszt's contemporaries they sound more like orchestral masterpieces

Indeedie, I've gone through works by Rubinstein, Herz, etc, and Liszt is a country mile ahead of them in ambition and inspiration.

Regarding choral works-members did mention 'Christus' but I would like to put a word in for the big Oratorio 'The Legend of Saint Elizabeth' and the splendid Hungarian Coronation March-both of which I have in good Hungaraton recordings.

I hadn't heard of that oratorio before - and I thought liking Christus gave me kudos for obscurity ;D

I think that Liszt deserves a lot more from the relative obscurity into which he seems to be falling.  Mendelssohn, Schumann and Liszt were all born within 2 years of each other(1809-11). Mendelssohn and Schumann were great composers but I often think that Liszt sounds-by far-the most 'modern' of the three. (Maybe that will elicit some comment!)

Mendelssohn and Schumann are rather "comfy" in comparison, but Liszt's current lack of popularity next to a figure such as Mendelssohn (who I consider equally interesting but no greater) could be in part due to Felix's mastery of sonata form, and willingness to stick to it while including very strong melodic themes. By that measure he could be considered worthy of being placed in the hall of great symphonists which is a standard that Liszt can't stand up to, in his works covering a large amount of forms (he was inconsistent, but so was Mendelssohn, so this can't be too much of a factor). His tone poems can also be undermined from a traditionalist perspective by citing early Sibelius's more taut form, but this isn't what Liszt was aiming for, despite being able to pull it off (as in his piano concertos).

The current taste for "cycles" could also be problematic: Schumann has his collections of character pieces, his chamber music and lieder, Mendelssohn has his quartets and symphonies, Liszt's output is formally and conceptually less cohesive. If he produced a large sonata cycle, I suspect that modern audiences would be listening to him more often...
« Last Edit: September 30, 2008, 05:31:21 PM by Lethe »
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Offline Wanderer

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2008, 11:41:45 PM »
I've noticed, too, there's not much (expressed at any rate) love here for Liszt, one of the most luminous visionaries the world of music has ever seen.

I have also long admired the Faust Symphony and, in particular, the wonderfully uplifting choral ending to the work(which comes over magnificently in the Bernstein recording!).

A most beloved work and an excellent recording indeed. The "Dante" Symphony is also deeply impressive, especially the final Magnificat.

I would like to put a word in for the big Oratorio 'The Legend of Saint Elizabeth' and the splendid Hungarian Coronation March-both of which I have in good Hungaraton recordings.

I've still to investigate "The Legend of Saint Elizabeth", which is on the wish list for quite some time.  >:(

Regarding the Piano Concerto in E flat, op.posth. I believe I have a version of it hidden somewhere; unearthing it would require some digging. I'm sure to report back upon re-discovery, Lethe! As far as I remember, though, it's not anything significant or impressive (quite short, too).

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2008, 03:35:29 AM »
The Dante Symphony :) Yes, I should have mentioned that work too :) I have just listened again to the closing Magnificat-it is just so gorgeously, gloriously beautiful! This is the epitome of Romantic music of the very best kind!

The version of the Dante Symphony I have is the Hungaraton with Gyorgy Lehel conducting the Budapest Symphony Orchestra. I was fortunate enough to visit Budapest a number of times and picked up there these Hungaraton recordings, including 'The Legend of Saint Elizabeth' and the Hungarian Coronation Mass. Sinopoli and Barenboim have both, I know, recorded highly praised versions of the Dante Symphony.

In addition to the Bernstein Faust Symphony I also have Barenboim's version with the Berlin Philharmonic and Placido Domingo and the old Beecham version. Along with the last movement of Mahler's 2nd I have always thought of the closing pages of the Faust Symphony as the most moving pieces of music ever composed :)

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2008, 03:56:26 AM »
The final chorus of Bernstein's famous live performance of the Faust Symphony from 1976 is on YouTube-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U_g0UnWjJU

The sound and picture quality are not great(the DVD is commercially available) but it is a record of a memorable performance!
What a great conductor Bernstein was :) Yes...a showman but what utterly genuine passion and total committment to the music!!

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2008, 10:13:31 AM »
Along with the last movement of Mahler's 2nd I have always thought of the closing pages of the Faust Symphony as the most moving pieces of music ever composed :)

That's quite a claim, Colin... I'll have to check that later in the week...  ;)
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2008, 10:35:29 AM »

Bernstein conducting the last four minutes of Mahler No.2 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra-


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rECVyN5D60I

This to me is THE single most glorious passage in ALL music! I want it played at my funeral(hopefully long in the future :).
I cannot listen to this without tears :)

Offline Catison

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2008, 12:02:30 PM »
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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2009, 08:53:08 PM »
Wikipedia lists an additional piano concerto to his numbered two: Piano Concerto in E flat, op. posth., S. 125a. Has anyone heard this, and does it compare well to the other two?

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2009, 08:10:31 AM »
Anyway, it is certainly true that his star seems to have faded a good deal-certainly with concert promoters-but Chandos are releasing a complete set of the symphonic poems with the BBC Philharmonic under Gianandrea Noseda and that combination did perform the Faust Symphony at the 2005 Proms.

I've got that Chandos recording of the Faust-Symphonie (the version without the choral ending);  and, as fine a piece as it is, it's the other tone-poem on that disc which captivates me: Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe, S.107

Quote from: Colin
Personally, I have long had a soft spot for (most of) the symphonic poems. I first heard 'Les Preludes' on an ancient 78 belonging to my father and loved the great swaggering theme in the middle of the piece. Beecham used to conduct 'Orpheus' a lot but I prefer 'Mazeppa', 'Tasso' and 'Hunnenschlacht' (despite its rather preposterous bombast!).

I do like Orpheus (and Tasso) a great deal . . . in a curious way, like Stravinsky's, Liszt's Orpheus is a quiet mystery from a composer renowned for grabbing you by the collar.

karlhenning

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2009, 08:11:17 AM »
Super Win!

Not only can it be heard - it's free.

:-)

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2009, 11:57:40 AM »
Super Win!

Not only can it be heard - it's free.

Don't get too exited, the piece is nothing special.

What we really need is an increased amount of recordings of his late works. It's good that we at least have Leslie Howard but i don't particularly like his playing and i'd prefer a wider range of choice.

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2009, 12:02:35 PM »
Liszt's Orpheus is a quiet mystery from a composer renowned for grabbing you by the collar.

That reputation is based on a false premise thought. Unlike Stravinsky, Liszt's output is for the largest part quite and contemplative in nature. I think it was Clara Schumann who described him as a "ghost" behind the keyboard, or something to that effect.

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2009, 07:34:26 PM »
Don't get too exited, the piece is nothing special.

What we really need is an increased amount of recordings of his late works. It's good that we at least have Leslie Howard but i don't particularly like his playing and i'd prefer a wider range of choice.

Indeed, it's not as good as the other two PCs (which many people dislike anyway, but I enjoy), but I'm glad that I got to hear it and judge for myself. I was surprised at how acceptable Howard was - I was partly duped when initially exploring Liszt's non-mainstream piano music that the more exotic the surname, the more "genuine" the performance, but given how neglected Liszt's obscure works are, there hasn't really been a tradition built up that could make any "school" of performers a good choice in it. But I agree that Howard could be improved on from what little I have heard of his Liszt (I can't afford that many at Hyperion prices), and even if not improved upon, an alternate take on some of the works would be valuble. But given Howard's consistent style and great ability coupled with Hyperion's usual recording and documentation standards, the set is an ideal way to present these works en-masse for the first time.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2009, 07:36:42 PM by Lethe »
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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2009, 08:07:48 PM »
Liszt's piano music is among the most technically challenging ever composed, especially the famous (or rather, infamous) 12 Etudes D'execution Transcend and the notoriously hard opera paraphrases. My favorite among that bunch is definitely the Mozart Réminiscences de Don Juan. It is basically a 16-minute long technical workout that combines the most memorable scenes and catchy tunes from Amadeus' masterpiece. Below that inhuman technical demands, however, lies a very lyrical musical personality that never fails to move me. When played well, this is one of my favorite solo piano pieces, and so far my favorite version is surprisingly Lang Lang's: his is one of the most breathtaking, virtuosic and unique performances I've ever heard. The showmanship this piece demands probably help to "justify" LL's over-the-top expression and heavy-handedness.

You can watch that performance here,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8mKzbr33P4&feature=related Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15IonM3w__I&feature=related Part 2

Having said that, LL ranks at the bottom of my "Great pianists" list.  :P
« Last Edit: January 02, 2009, 08:32:17 PM by imperfection »

Offline Solitary Wanderer

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2009, 01:04:49 PM »
The famous Lehmann painting of a young Liszt



Interesting comments everyone. I'm currently on a Liszt 'jag' and greatly enjoying reading and listening about this amazing man  :)
'I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.' ~ Emily Bronte

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #17 on: August 10, 2009, 01:53:21 PM »
The first thing that stikes you about Liszt's voice is its frequent and peculiar clattery and rather staccato quality. I don't know how he manages this exactly but there's no other composer quite like it. I can't agree that Liszt is a great composer though- he excelled himself only a few times, such as the Benediction from the Religuese set and the Piano concertos- at opposite ends of the expressive range. The Benediction shows how he succeeds in a rare instance- whereas in so many of his other contemplative pieces instead of profundity there is only ambiguity and harmonic haze.

DavidW

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #18 on: August 10, 2009, 02:10:11 PM »
After not having listened to Liszt for a very long time, Richter performing the Piano Sonata has convinced me that Liszt is a composer of the highest order!! 0:)

George

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Re: Franz Liszt (1811-86)
« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2009, 02:18:11 PM »
After not having listened to Liszt for a very long time, Richter performing the Piano Sonata has convinced me that Liszt is a composer of the highest order!! 0:)


 

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