REVIEWS

American Record GuideBeethoven: Symphony 9, arr Liszt
American Record Guide
January/February, 2008
Harrington

The brothers Contiguglia first recorded Liszt's two-piano arrangement of Beethoven's Ninth in 1972 for Connoisseur Society. That world premiere recording was honored by the Liszt Society of Budapest with its Grand Prix. Now, some 35 years later, comes their second recording. Not unlike some conductors who made multiple recordings of Beethoven symphonies, maturity and long acquaintance with the music has changed their approach in many ways. Their tempos are a little slower (particularly in I and the Trio of III) and they have added some additional notes from the score that Liszt chose to omit. Their unity is astounding, and their approach to this, probably the greatest of all musical work, is straightforward and solid.

Two pianos can make a lot of sound and Liszt's transcription is wonderful, but no matter how good the transcription or how fine the performance, when it comes time for the baritone to sing 'O Freunde, nicht diese Tone!' and all you get is the notes on a piano, the magic is lost. I was quite impressed when Cyprian Katsaris first recorded Liszt's sole piano transcription of the Ninth, but once I got over being impressed, I hardly ever listened to it again. Now on two pianos, more of the original score is present and the sound is moreŚmore orchestralŚwait a minute, isn't that what we all want? Enough levity. I enjoy transcriptions as much or more than most, and this is a great one, of the greatest piece, with a masterly performance, excellent recorded sound, and perceptive notes.


Home
| Biography | Reviews | Repertoire | Gemini CD Classics | Porgy & Bess | Contact Us