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Franz Liszt: Beethoven Symphonies 7 & 8 (Piano Transcriptions)

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 29, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Transcriptions pour piano des symphonies de Beethoven : Symph. n°7 op.92, n°8 op.93 / Constantin Scherbakov, piano
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
1
30
12:11
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2
30
8:35
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3
30
10:39
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4
30
7:25
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5
30
8:35
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3:57
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7
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4:56
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8
30
7:20
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 29, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B000GNOHM8
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,873 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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For Lisztians and collectors who relish their Cyprien Katsaris recording(s) (Beethoven/Liszt: Symphonies Nos. 1-9), this release may not be worth buying. Katsaris is simply indomitable because his recording presents the Liszt piano transcriptions with extra doubling and slight alterations in the service of producing greater sonority. However, I believe Scherbakov eradicates all other contenders, namely Gould and Howard. And if you want a stellar interpretation of Beethoven's symphonies, Scherbakov's artistry here is recommendable. Yet this recording may not be desirable for those seeking all of Scherbakov's Beethoven-Liszt: instead of just buying this release, I would recommend purchasing the box set (Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 1-9 Transcribed by Liszt [Box Set]).

In the preface to his edition of the piano transcriptions Liszt says: "The name of Beethoven is sacred in art. His symphonies are nowadays universally recognized as masterpieces. No one who seriously desires to extend his knowledge, or create something new himself, can ever devote sufficient thought to them, or ever study them enough." Liszt's reverence for Beethoven is evident and his genius in the art of transcription has done tremendous things with Beethoven's symphonic works. Liszt's transcriptions capture all of the orchestral effects, textures, and more importantly, the spirit of Beethoven. As such, I don't think even the purists who lambaste "piano reductions" can find fault with Liszt's magnum achievement.
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Format: Audio CD
[First, let me suggest you read Hexameron's fine review of the disc. He provides a lot of information that I will omit from my review. He, like I, think this is a stunning finish to this wondrous series by a pianist who has been recording a lot for Naxos in recent years, going from triumph to triumph.]

Wagner called Beethoven's Seventh Symphony 'the apotheosis of the dance' and that is an apt description. Each movement MOVES, even the Allegretto which could also be thought of as a sort of funeral march (although I prefer to think of it as a celebration of plucky persistence). Liszt, as with the other symphonies, did an amazing job of transcribing this complex work for piano solo. This is not really one of those piano transcriptions that were constructed for the use of amateur pianists in their homes; this is a virtuoso work that requires enormous skill and musicality. There are defects, of course, in its realization largely because of the limitations of the piano. For instance, Liszt had to resort to octave tremolos far too often to imitate sustained tones in the orchestra. He had difficulty bringing out the delicious counter-melodies of the second movement, although Scherbakov does as good as job as anyone could do. I prefer his account to that of Katsaris on the Elektra label, the only other recording I know. (There is one by Leslie Howard, but I am not fond of his playing in general and have not sought out his recording of the Beethoven/Liszt symphonies on Hyperion.) As for the markedly rhythmic first, third and fourth movements, both Liszt and Scherbakov cannot be praised highly enough. This is really exciting stuff and I defy any listener to sit quietly in their chair without the urge to get up and move, perhaps even dance wildly, particularly so in the Scherzo.
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Format: Audio CD
These transcriptions are amazing. Liszt was a brilliant artist and knew how to get an orchestral sound out of the piano. I also think that the performer did an excellent job interpreting these pieces.
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