Saturday, May 7, 2011

Franz Liszt - Piano Concerto No. 1 & No. 2

Kyrill Kondrashin / Sviatoslov Richter
2000; 7 tracks

Here are the two Piano Concertos of Hungarian piano virtuoso Franz Liszt - not the "Hungarian Fantasia" or Chopin pieces (sorry).

These are the go-to recordings for both concertos, due mostly to their pristine recordings and Richter's incredibly lively and beautiful interpretations of the pieces. Franz Liszt took almost 20 years to finalize the First Concerto (which is amazing and you should recognize it as soon as you hear it). The Second was begun shortly afterward, but not finished for nearly another 20 years. The First Concerto is typically considered a soloist's showpiece, which is certainly not uncommon among the many showy Liszt pieces, and is therefore very popular among non-classical music fans. According to an eternally unknown source, the "Second [concerto] shows Liszt attempting to confirm his compositional talent while distancing himself from his virtuoso performance origins."

Franz Liszt was a very interesting character, in terms of music and real life, much like Johannes Brahms (to me). If you have the time, I highly recommend reading about his eventful life, one full of immense glory, sadness, and personal enlightenment. I posted some of his other piano music a while back, and they can be found here.

Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat
Piano Concerto No 2 in A

Oh, one last thing - I have just begun to learn this piece (below). It is "Un Sospiro" from Liszt's Trois études de concert. I wouldn't call it my favorite Liszt piece, but it does look fun to play. And very challenging. The only other Liszt piece I learned was his "Au bord d'une source," probably the most difficult piece for me to keep under control. I need to train my fingers a little better to play things this rapid and still sound as lightweight and gorgeous as this pianist, Marc-André Hamelin, does. Maybe someday...


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