Monday, August 9, 2010

Franz Liszt - Piano Music

Franz Liszt was a Hungarian composer and virtuoso pianist. He was very skilled, and some might have even considered him to be the greatest pianist who ever lived and ever will live. When he was 20, he decided he wanted to really be the greatest pianist in the world, so he started practicing 18 hours a day for 10 years straight. At 30, he was the greatest in the entire world. He was quite vain and decided that there simply were no pieces in the standard repertoire that even nearly matched his level of skill. This being the case, he wrote pieces for himself to play that were astonishingly difficult and a marvel to behold. Liszt also was the first one to come up with the concept of a "recital," or a solo performance of one (sometimes more) people. It is said that at his performances, many ladies would faint just by watching him play the piano!

Anyways, this guy was cool. He went on to become a monk later on in life, deciding to become a recluse from society... The third volume of the Années de pèlerinage is a perfect example of this dark, troubled time in the composer's life (which ended up being near the end...)

Années de pèlerinage (Complete Recording)

Lazar Berman, pianist; 2002, 26 tracks

Liszt's three volumes of Années de pèlerinage are rarely recorded complete, largely because many pianists remain baffled by the dark-hued prophecy and romanticism of the third and final book. So it is particularly gratifying to welcome Lazar Berman's superb recordings back into the catalogue, particularly when so finely remastered on CD. Berman is hardly celebrated as the most subtle or refined of pianists, but at his greatest he combines grandeur and sensibility to a rare degree and his response to Book Three, in particular, is of the highest musical quality and poetic insight.

The Années de pèlerinage (or "Years of Pilgrimage") are set into three parts:

-First Year, Switzerland
-Second Year, Italy
-Third Year

These 3 links correspond with these 3 parts.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The Transcendental Études

Boris Berezovsky, pianist; 2006, 12 tracks

This is the newest recording by Berezovsky of all 12 Transcendental Études.


Hungarian Rhapsodies, Complete

Michelle Campanella, pianist; 1993, 19 tracks

[The 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies] remain among the most entertaining and successful pieces that Liszt wrote. This complete set is easily the finest available, and its reissue at two discs for the price of one makes it even more desirable.

Part 1
Part 2


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