Liszt: Concerto pathétique; Malédiction

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Liszt
LABELS: Erresse
WORKS: Concerto pathétique; Malédiction
PERFORMER: Claudio Crismani (piano); Philharmonia Orchestra/Thomas Sanderling
CATALOGUE NO: RS 6367-10 (distr. RRD)
The music of Liszt, who transcribed and arranged other composers with enthusiasm, has also been subjected to the same treatment. Witness the bewildering pedigree of the Concerto pathétique. It started off as a piano solo in 1849, which Liszt rewrote for two pianos; then he got as far as creating a fragment of a third piano concerto out of the same material shortly before he died. In 1952, Gábor Darvas completed the orchestration, and finally the piano part was rewritten by Claudio Crismani, the soloist on this disc.

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The result has none of the reassuring landmarks that make standard virtuosic 19th-century concertos as glitteringly delightful as they are predictable. The mood is emotionally intense, with abrupt changes in tempi and dynamics generating excitement at the expense of structure. The improvisatory style becomes a little wearying, but to make up for it there are moments of enchanted lyricism and some grand climaxes.

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This is a premiere recording: will this edition become an accepted concerto or will subsequent arrangers go on fiddling around with it? As it stands, it would benefit from a pianist with a less neurotic approach than Crismani, who is too inclined to let the music wallow in its own pathos. Christopher Lambton