Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

LlSZT Heroïde funebre; Mephisto Waltz No.1;
Piano Concerto No.1 in E flat

OrchestraSinfonica RAI di Torino/ Peter Maag
Lazar Berman (Piano)


I am no Lisztian, but am a devotee of the late Peter Maag, ever since I heard him conduct Figaro at Glyndebourne in 1959. This latest release on Arts Archive caught my attention for its inclusion, after the Mephisto Waltz, of the gigantic and rarely played symphonic poem Heroïde funebre. It is an unreservedly solemn funeral march, 25 minutes long, rhythmically static and built from relatively simple basic material, subjected to striking orchestral treatment, bringing to mind Mahler and Berlioz, and is worth listening to occasionally. Today was a peculiarly apt occasion to hear it, after a family friend's funeral and in the week after Lazar Berman had died at only 74.

Berman gives a rip-roaring account of this more popular of Liszt's two piano concertos in 1976; a work which can only be appreciated live as here before a Turin audience.

The re-mastering of these stereo originals gives us natural sound, mostly well balanced, with a curious exception; Riccardo Risaliti deplores the backwardness of the triangle in the third movement. Hanslick dismissively dubbed it the "Triangle Concerto" in Vienna, after which it was not played in that city for another fifteen years. I have often found the triangle an irritant and tend to avoid this concerto, but here it gives a delicate and piquant touch to the orchestral sonority, instead of asserting itself as an obbligato second soloist. That actually makes you listen to it more carefully - I find the same happens not infrequently in duo-sonata recordings, when famous string soloists insist on being balanced forward of their piano 'accompanist', which paradoxically results in my giving more attention to the latter.

To celebrate Lazar Berman's artistry ArtsMusic dedicates this recording to his memory as their CD of the month: 'he was and he will always remain a great pianist', and I am happy to add my recommendation.

© Peter Grahame Woolf