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Thread: Liszt Transcriptions of Beethoven Symphonies Recordings

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    Senior Member Templeton's Avatar
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    Default Liszt Transcriptions of Beethoven Symphonies Recordings

    Shamefully, I have only just discovered that Liszt transcribed all of Beethoven's symphonies for piano. As far as I can ascertain, four complete cycles are available by Idil Beret, Cyprien Katsaris, Leslie Howard and Konstantin Scherbakov. I imagine that there are other recordings of individual symphonies by other pianists; I see that Glenn Gould did the 6th.

    Can anybody provide recommendations for both full cycles and individual symphonies? Thanks, in advance.

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    For the complete set, I'd reccomend Katsaris or Howard. Katsaris recordings of the complete transcriptions are most coherent for me, although it should be noted that he doesn't always strictly keep to the Liszt transcription and takes some liberties here and there - for the better, in my opinion (the opening of 9th Symphony). Howard isn't really far behind, and he's more faithful to what Liszt wrote. But if I was to pick one, it would be Katsaris.

    Bits of Scherbakov's recording of the 9th were my first contact with these transcriptions. I liked them back then, but now they just seem plastic and unmusical to me.

    I didn't hear much of Biret, except, again, the 9th, and her awfully slow tempos just don't convince me.
    Last edited by WJM; Jun-21-2015 at 11:43.

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    For me, Biret is the class of the Biret - Katsaris - Howard trio. Haven't heard Scherbakov. Recorded in (3?) days, so 'fresh' for her and for me. Katsaris took years, and it sounds so. Howard is Howard in his marathon.
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    Howard is very good indeed - and in my opinion, his Hyperion version is preferable to the (much cheaper) versions on Naxos.

    There are a number of other worthwhile candidates include Geroges Pludermacher (Symphony 3) and Michael Dalbert (Symphony 6) on Harmonia Mundi - they used different pianists for their 'cycle' - whilst some people like Glen Gould's own transcriptions of Beethoven

    You might also like to explore Liszt's other transcriptions (eg of Berlioz, Rossini etc etc) as well as Thalberg's 'transcriptions' of parts of Bellini etc
    "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils." Berlioz, 1856

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    Senior Member Templeton's Avatar
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    Thanks very much to you all for your helpful responses. I will check out You Tube further, to help with my decision, as to which edition to purchase, but am currently inclined towards Katsaris, based upon some of the online reviews.

    Initial, partial listens are certainly interesting, although I am not really sure about them yet. Maybe something that will grow upon me, with further listening. Thanks again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Templeton View Post
    Thanks very much to you all for your helpful responses. I will check out You Tube further, to help with my decision, as to which edition to purchase, but am currently inclined towards Katsaris, based upon some of the online reviews.

    Initial, partial listens are certainly interesting, although I am not really sure about them yet. Maybe something that will grow upon me, with further listening. Thanks again.
    Katsaris is bravura style. Biret is more reflective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Headphone Hermit View Post
    Howard is very good indeed - and in my opinion, his Hyperion version is preferable to the (much cheaper) versions on Naxos.

    There are a number of other worthwhile candidates include Geroges Pludermacher (Symphony 3) and Michael Dalbert (Symphony 6) on Harmonia Mundi - they used different pianists for their 'cycle' - whilst some people like Glen Gould's own transcriptions of Beethoven

    You might also like to explore Liszt's other transcriptions (eg of Berlioz, Rossini etc etc) as well as Thalberg's 'transcriptions' of parts of Bellini etc
    Did Gould make his own transcriptions of Beethoven? I bought Michael Dalbert's unknowingly as Joyce Hatto. But my preference is for Biret.

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    Glenn Gould used Liszt's transcriptions (5th and 6th), though for some parts of the the fourth movement of the 5th, he used the technique of re-recording to accompany himself (Gould four-handed) and hence must have fleshed out Liszt's score some more. He also used this technique with some of his own Wagner transcriptions to great effect.

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