Geza Anda - Liszt Sonata in B minor
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
The first recording I ever heard of the B Minor Sonata was the 1932 Horowitz one, which immediately got me hooked, this was 36 years ago, and I've loved the sonata ever since. I wouldn't want to be without that 1932 recording, or the 1976 one, though I know the general consensus is that it's more mannered, but I still find it very exciting, and in places it has a grandeur that I've not heard in any other recording, there's also the unedited live recording from 1976 in the big Sony box of Horowitz's recitals, which is quite different in many respects.
Another favourite live performance is that by Claudio Arrau on Orfeo, this was given at the Salzburg Festival in 1982, and is absolutely superb, even better, in my opinion, than Arrau's justly famed studio recording on Philips.
Of the pianists I've heard play the sonata live, three stand out in my mind: Shura Cherkassky (there's a live performance on Decca), who I heard give a blistering account of it in 1995 only a few months before his death. Yevgeny Kissin, who I heard play it in 1998, he really should record it, in fact he should record a lot more Liszt, he is a really splendid Liszt player (try the selection of Transcendental Studies that are coupled with his account of the Schumann Fantasy.) And last, but by no means least, Louis Kentner, who I heard play it at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1985 as part of his 80th birthday recital. He had a wonderful grasp of the architecture of the piece and like Kissin, was a supreme Lisztian. APR have recently released his 1948 recording of the sonata, the first time it's been available since it's initial very limited run when it was first released in 1950, it is absolutely wonderful and demands to be heard (it's also coupled with equally fine performances of the Balakirev Piano Sonata and Liapounov Transcendental Studies, so duplicating the Liszt gives you some other very fine piano rarities, in performances of the greatest distinction.)
Then I mustn't forget the pioneering recording by Alfred Cortot, listening to which alone should put paid to any doubting Thomases who still feel that Cortot had insufficient technique. Jorge Bolet is another that I wouldn't want to be without, likewise I've always enjoyed the Argerich recording, though it is a bit breathless and not one I'd want to listen to every day of the week, but to conclude with, another wonderful lady pianist I must make mention of Edith Farnadi. She made a series of recordings of Liszt's piano music for Westminster in the 1950s that are outstanding in every way, and the B Minor Sonata is no exception, everything she does seems intrinsically right, and this is a performance that I have returned to again and again and never been disappointed with, it is a tragedy that most of Farnadi's recordings have not been available since the early 1960s, she was a superb pianist and deserves to be far better remembered.
Last edited by ShropshireMoose; Jan-23-2017 at 22:39.
"The only absolute in music is that there are no absolutes." Jorge Bolet (1914-1990)