Franz Liszt’s own Bechstein piano was donated to the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena as a result of a warm friendship that struck up in 1938 between the owner of the piano, Roberto Almagia, and the founder of the Accademia, Count Guido Chigi Saracini.
Almagia had bought it for his wife, but she had since died, and he was so impressed with the Count, he felt instinctively that the Accademia was the right place for the piano. In addition,Almagia knew that Liszt had links with Siena, as he had stayed there with Wagner and his family. This is a remarkable recording of the Italian pianist Michele Campanella performing a selection of Liszt’s late works on this historic instrument, in the grand and sumptuous Liszt salon within the 14th century Palazzo Chigi Saracini, the home of the Accademia Musicale Chigiana.
This collection of Liszt’s late works reflects the composer’s feelings about old age, the virtuoso brilliance of his earlier works replaced by sparser textures and experimental harmonies, including the dark and glittering Valses Oubliées, the impressionistic Nuages Gris and En rève, and the series of musical memorials to Hungarian artists and statesmen, Historiche Ungarische Bildnisse. Michele Campanella is professor of piano at the Accademia. He is internationally known as one of the major interpreters of the Liszt repertoire, and was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque three years in a row by the Franz Liszt Academy in Budaest.
This fantastic Bechstein 247 is restored in 2010 in its original condition and now for the first time used for this first-class recording by Michele Campanella.
The repertoire maestro Campanella has chosen here fits perfectly with the sound of the piano, late works influenced by thoughts on death and the old age.
This piano was sent to Rome in 1860 were Liszt played it till he died in 1886. The piano was passed on to Liszt most famous pupil, Sgambati.
“The piano's sound is slightly but tellingly different from today's cross-strung concert grand...The tone that results is mellow, more than powerful enough, and beautifully clear...Campanella generally opts for spacious tempos, giving the music room to speak, and excels in capturing its sequence of moods and sounds. A choice release to round out Liszt's bicentenary year.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2011 ****