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Hyperion Records

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Liszt spielt (detail) (1840) by Josef Danhauser
Track(s) taken from CDA66671/5
Recording details: March 1993
St Martin's Church, Newbury, United Kingdom
Produced by Tryggvi Tryggvason
Engineered by Tryggvi Tryggvason
Release date: April 1993
Total duration: 26 minutes 22 seconds

'This really is a pretty phenomenal achievement. I urge Lisztians to hear it, and even those who collect the proper versions of the Beethoven Symphonies—it is a marvellous way of hearing them afresh' (Gramophone)

'The combination of devotion and diligence which both [Leslie Howard] and Liszt had lavished on getting to the heart of these inexhaustible works is staggering' (Classic CD)

'Howard's performances are, like nearly all in this series, consistently distinguished' (Fanfare, USA)

Symphony No 8 in F major, S464/8
Op 93

Allegro vivace  [7'51]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
If Beethoven’s Symphony No 8 might be said to inhabit the gentler slopes of the symphonic alps, the same cannot quite be said of Liszt’s transcription, which leaves no stone unturned in its search for laying plain Beethoven’s text. The Eighth Symphony was completed shortly after the Seventh, at the end of 1813 (and published without dedication), and Liszt’s transcription was made fifty years later. From the very opening it is plain that all the internal figuration and the spacings of chords are to be maintained wherever possible. And yet a second look at Liszt’s score reveals practically newly invented figuration which nonetheless makes the ‘sound’ of Beethoven’s orchestration. Thalbergian three-hand textures are left in the historical shade by Liszt’s ingenuity throughout these transcriptions in making two hands seem to do the work of more. However, all is relatively feasible until the arpeggios and leaps in octaves at the end of the exposition.

The famous metronomic Allegretto scherzando makes such a winsome piano piece that it ought to have acquired a life of its own as an encore piece long since, the only proviso being that the piano needs to have a very repeatable middle B flat for the last bar.

Since the slow movement is relatively fast, the Minuet is comparatively stately. Liszt keeps the texture unfussy, and even allows the basses of the last cadence to sound two octaves higher than in the score. The Trio, on the other hand, cannot help but be awkward in order to preserve the independence of clarinet, horns and cello. Liszt gives the rhythm of the horn part in the third bar as in the earlier Steiner edition—i.e. identical to the two previous bars. The present performance adopts the familiar Breitkopf reading with the dotted crotchet on the second beat.

Despite his inclusion of Beethoven’s frightening metronome mark in the finale, of 84 semibreves to the minute, Liszt also has a footnote detailing the necessity of preserving Beethoven’s phrasing in the oft-repeated three-note rhythm (two quavers together separated from the following crotchet rather than all three notes slurred together) which renders the tempo somewhat slower. Throughout the movement, Liszt shows great variety in his approach to the constant repeated triplets, sometimes wisely permitting four repeated chords in place of six, sometimes inventing a line of moving triplets instead of repeated chords, and just occasionally demanding seven repetitions of a single note. Beethoven’s humour emerges as ever, no matter what the technical cost, whether in the intruding D flats/C sharps or in the juggling of the major third up and down the orchestra at the coda.

from notes by Leslie Howard © 1993

Other albums featuring this work
'Liszt: Complete Piano Music' (CDS44501/98)
Liszt: Complete Piano Music
MP3 £160.00FLAC £160.00ALAC £160.00Buy by post £200.00 CDS44501/98  99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)  
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