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The Naxos comprehensive Liszt Piano Edition continues this month with a remarkable performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, transcribed for solo piano by Liszt.
Nineteenth century music lovers did not have the luxury of recorded sound, and the closest many listeners could get to Beethoven’s symphonies was through Liszt’s piano transcriptions. Though they have fallen out of fashion more recently there is no denying the sheer musicianship – and physical strength – required of a performer (or in this case, performers) for such a mammoth undertaking
Franz Liszt: Beethoven - Symphony No. 9 in D minor, S657/R376, "Choral"
I. Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
II. Molto vivace
III. Adagio molto e cantabile - Andante moderato
IV. Finale: Presto
4th May 2008
“Beethoven’s Ninth on two pianos is not at all the same thing, even when the transcription (masterly) is the work of Liszt. The first movement suffers particularly, deprived of its bleak but wonderfully expressive scoring...On the other hand, details of harmony and pitch (the timpani’s F at the beginning of the scherzo) spring out afresh. And the performance (at Beethoven’s metronome speeds) is so vivid and powerful that you are carried along by the exhilaration of it, and your ear gradually supplies what is missing.”
16th May 2008
“This two-keyboard version of the Ninth from 1851 is fascinating, and Leon McCawley and Ashley Wass show how dramatic it can be, and how acutely Liszt was able to translate the orchestral scoring into plausible piano sonorities. It's engaging and superbly played, and, at the price, worth it for the novelty and the unexpected revelations.”