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FRANZ LISZT - Complete Piano Transcriptions Vol. 1




The art of transcription has been an important task for musicians in every historical period. The reasons why a composer might decide to transcribe/elaborate/modify a piece of music are numerous. For instance, the transcriptions written by J.S. Bach, especially in his youth, provided him with an ideal way of studying and examining in depth the masterpieces of other composers. During the nineteenth century, the transcription for piano flourished for a quite different reason: the desire of music lovers to listen to orchestral and operatic music in their home or in small concert halls, when it was not possible (or too expensive) to attend performances by a full orchestra in a theatre. Nowadays it is usual for us to listen to masterpieces such as, for example, the Beethoven Symphonies or operas by Verdi and Wagner many times during our lives, whereas a music enthusiast of the 19th century was denied this privilege. In an attempt to satisfy this demand for music, many transcriptions were composed for solo or small combinations of instruments. There is no doubt that the instrument for which transcriptions could be made as effectively and as completely as possible was the piano, since it has many features that no other instrument possesses: a wide pitch range stretching from the lowest bass to the highest treble, the opportunity to play many notes simultaneously and a sheer volume of sound that can compete with an entire orchestra.
If the piano is the pinnacle in the field of transcription, the composer who embodied the figure of of the translator from other instruments to the keyboard was, as might be expected, Franz Liszt. Paraphrases, Transcriptions, Fantasies: these are the titles of hundreds of pieces written in more than fifty years. Obviously, we should not expect each piece to be equally fascinating; we may find the conscientious engraver, as he himself wrote in the preface to his Beethoven Symphonies transcriptions, or simply a composer who converts sombeody elses’s music into a piano piece.
My devotion to these masterpieces, dating back to my teens, has led me to conceive this series of discs dedicated to the complete recordings of Franz Liszt’s piano transcriptions.
Ermanno De Stefani



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