Ludwig Van Beethoven
The Nine Symphonies arranged for
Solo Piano by Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Cyprien Katsaris, piano
Warner Classics 2564-60865-2
This collection is a triple treat. Not only are the Beethoven Symphonies and the Liszt transcriptions superb, but they are performed superbly. Here is a brief quotation from the excellent liner notes by Liszt scholar Wolfgang Döming:
"Liszt made it quite clear right from the start that he was not concerned with the writing of piano reductions; he insisted on the idea of a 'partition de piano' as he called it, a 'piano score'. In other words a recreation of the orchestral score for the piano... a representation of the whole. The piano reduction is and always has been a makeshift, but Liszt raised the piano score to the level of a form of composition."
Katsaris's nuanced interpretations are totally satisfying. His control of the piano is amazing. His virtuosity is always in the good service of the music. Even if you are a purist and have insisted upon hearing only the orchestral versions of Beethoven's symphonies, it is almost guaranteed that you will discover new things to appreciate if you listen to these Liszt transcriptions.