He Did What?

Franz Liszt was one of those love-or-hate-’em composer/performers, sometimes both at the same time — a gigantic, prima-donna personality, a performing style that mixed stupendous technique with hammy brio and about forty-five fingers on both hands.

He gave me whiplash this afternoon when I came home, having left the radio on.

Hearing that performed on a piano reminded me of a favorite simile of Robert Anton Wilson’s: “Like opening a door in your own home and finding Buck Rogers shooting it out with Fu Manchu.”

They’ve got the Revolutionary and Romantic orchestra playing the original version now, back to back. I don’t know if that’s for educational comparison, or to make us all calm down.

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18 thoughts on “He Did What?

    • That is actually the performance that was broadcast today, but it didn’t come up when I searched on YouTube.

      I still missed the orchestra though, because my father was a hornplayer and for me there is no Beethoven 7th without the horns.

  1. I understand – and I am going to bed – but what I mean is that one doesn’t miss the orchestra since these pieces are different, they are perfect piano pieces, because of the performer, and because of Liszt.

  2. @Richard

    Beethoven was a great pianist too. Many of his orchestral composition he played on the piano himself, so I think he would have been pleased, also because Liszt’s piano writing was much better than Beethoven’s (a lot of progress having occurred in the meanwhile). But yes, he would not have been pleased by THIS pianist probably.

    • I’m sure Beethoven wouldn’t have minded if he’d done it. I can see him now, thumping on the keyboard, breaking the strings and spitting on his mirror (if the stories are to be believed).

      But I suspend my opinion, for what it’s worth, until I’ve heard another version.

  3. Technically, this is very interesting. I don’t really care for it, but it is an interesting, almost humorous, and intense interpretation.

  4. Hi Sled,
    I just wanted you to know that I subscribed to your blog on Google Reader and eliminated the e-mail subscription.
    This is all part of my usual New Year’s nesting/cleaning/organizing thing I go through at this time of year. Gosh, you’d think I was pregnant (not).

  5. Now the broadcast at ten in the evening is the 9th symphony. Again, nice but you really need to hear the voices singing “Freude, schone Gotterfunken.” I admire Sherbakov’s vigor and passion though.

    I believe that before recording technology, bootleg symphonies were performed on piano for audiences who could not travel to hear the full orchestra, and that is an interesting thing to contemplate.

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