Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Franz Liszt, Leslie Howard|
Beethoven-Liszt: The Complete Symphonies
Comparison between this and other Liszt-Beethoven recordings
Daniel Brown | Richmond, VA United States | 10/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've wanted this CD set for years and when I got it it was everything I had hoped for.Leslie Howard, if you don't already know, recorded for Hyperion (among other things) the complete piano works of Liszt, which took 95 CDs worth of music to do. His technique is superhuman.Being a big fan of Liszt, I own the scores to his piano arrangements of all the Beethoven symphonies. I have since been trying to find good recordings of them and this set is the best I've ever heard. Glenn Gould recorded the 5th and 6th symphonies on piano, but were generally too slow. They are great recordings but not quite what Liszt or Beethoven would have wanted. Cyprien Katsaris has a CD set with all 9 symphonies on piano, but he does not adhere to Liszt's original text. Katsaris changed many parts to better suit his own vision of how it should sound, and I don't think many of his own additions are necessary or good sounding. Naxos has released 4 of the Liszt versions of Beethoven symphonies, but due to how they were recorded many nuances do not come out very well. Also, they are not all played by the same person.
In Howard's set, however, he plays Liszt note-for-note and each one comes out sounding great. He plays with incredible speed which is needed to approach Beethoven's original tempi. Every symphony on here is the best I've ever heard it done on piano, except possibly the first movement of the 5th symphony, which goes to Glenn Gould. I reccomend everyone who likes Beethoven or Liszt or piano music in general to buy these CDs."
A spectacular undertaking
Daniel Brown | 09/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a piece of work this is. First Beethoven composes these 9 magnificent symphonies, then Liszt decides to transcribe all 9 from massed orchestral arrangements down to solo piano pieces, and finally Leslie Howard in this case gives us his interpretations of Liszt's interpretations of Beethoven's intentions. With this kind of chain of consequences you would be justified in anticipating something got lost along the way. And you would be right. On the one hand there are some dynamics and thrilling combinations of sounds only an orchestra can produce which do require many different instruments - you can never reproduce the timbre of a flute or cello on a piano. On the other hand strip away the, let's be honest, sluggishness of many large orchestras and the hiding of detail which occurs when less than perfect timing is maintained. Here, we hear these symphonies pared down and exposed as never before. The arrangements are quite analytical in places and reveal completely unexpected dividends. Many times I have listened to one of these and then jumped to the corresponding orchestral version in my collection, simply to check if something I heard was also present in the larger scale work. And so far I haven't been disappointed - new aspects of the works continue to come to my attention time after time. I just hadn't been aware of them before. These aren't better or worse than the full orchestral versions. They are simply different. Sometimes I choose to listen to one, sometimes to the other. All I can say is thank goodness for Beethoven, thank goodness for Liszt, and certainly thank goodness for a pianist with the sure touch of Leslie Howard to execute these tremendous pieces in such a confident and caring manner. Strongly recommended."
Flat readings of spectacular music
hjonkers | The Netherlands | 12/23/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Who would not want to hear a pianist struggle through the transcribed score of a Beethoven symphony? Unfortunately, pianist Leslie Howard makes a mere run-through of these symphonic scores. He has stellar technique, but interpretively speaking, he's just not very interesting. Just compare his 5th with Glenn Gould's--Howard plays the final about twice as fast, but with less than half of Gould's involvement. There are other alternatives--Katsaris, Scherbakov--but I haven to listen to them yet. But Howard is not recommended, unless you want just dry, safe run-throughs."