The most extraordinary virtuoso in musical history must surely be Franz Liszt.
This documentary, featuring many leading Liszt experts (including Charles Rosen, Leslie Howard, Antonio Pappano and Evgeny Kissin, concentrates on his earlier years when he was travelling across Europe almost non-stop, fuelling the phenomenon described by Heine as 'Lisztomania'.
It was also the time of his elopement with Marie, Comtesse d'Agoult, in a move that scandalised polite society as much for its unorthodox nature as for its moral dubiety.
These were the years of artistic journeying to which Liszt would one day return in the evocative musical colours of his Années de pèlerinage.
It was precisely during his stay in Italy that Liszt conceived a great part of his most important compositions: the two Concertos for piano and orchestra, the Totentanz, the Transcendental Studies and the ‘Dante Sonata’.
The composer’s life is narrated through the reading of original letters and diaries written by Liszt and Marie d’Agoult, accompanied by reconstructed scenes of the period that re-evoke their stays on Lake Como, in Milan, Pisa, San Rossore and Rome, aimed at helping the viewer to appreciate the inspirational sources that fired Liszt’s creative instinct: to see Italy through the eyes of Liszt.