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Beethoven/Liszt: Symphonies No 1 - 9 / Konstantin Scherbakov

Beethoven / Liszt / Scherbakov
Release Date: 11/21/2006 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8505219   Spars Code: DDD 
Number of Discs: 5 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 5 Hours 48 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

[T]his new volume is an undoubted success. Liszt was, among other things, a great virtuoso of the keyboard, of course, whose transcriptions are always among his most challenging works. The idea of bringing Beethoven's symphonies before a wider public was laudable and was uppermost in his mind in making these versions of the originals. However, the virtuoso challenge in their performance should not be underestimated; they are not intended for domestic music-making.

Nowhere is the challenge to the pianist more readily appreciated than in the great Eroica Symphony, a work whose lengthy proportions and powerful intensity require a strong structural grasp, a clear intellectual vision, and sheer concentration, not to mention a
Read more prodigious piano technique. Konstantin Scherbakov scores on all these counts, and the Naxos recording creates an excellent piano sound in an atmospheric acoustic. Liszt - and Beethoven - are well served.

-- Terry Barfoot, MusicWeb International [on Symphony Nos. 1 & 3]

It is a strange experience at first to hear music that is so instantly recognisable and familiar in a version for a solo instrument rather than the 46 that play in my Christopher Hogwood disc of the "Pastoral". However, very soon I was so involved in the music that although I knew what was coming and could sing along or whistle to the theme, I didn’t feel acutely aware of the missing strings, etc. . . . The whole experience of listening to such a work for a solo piano played by this consummate artist is nothing short of revelatory.

[Scherbakov] plays with a white-hot intensity that makes for thrilling listening and the result is that Liszt’s work on transcribing these symphonies is allowed to stand on its own without any comparison with the original works being made, even unwittingly. If like me you have never heard these transcriptions before you are in for a treat. The whole exercise has made me eager to explore the rest of this series.

-- Steve Arloff, MusicWeb International [on Symphony Nos. 4 & 6]

Scherbakov’s (and Liszt’s) great achievement here is that the performances on this disc are sufficient in their own right. In fact, it is refreshing to hear such familiar music apart from the orchestra. Suddenly performance aesthetics, the battle or compromise between the old big band style and period performance practice, cease to matter. With the different timbres and tones of the instrumental voices suddenly ironed out by the keyboard, each leading voice becomes something of a primus inter pares. As great works in their own right which shed new light on well known classics, these transcriptions are well worth hearing... if you love these symphonies then you will enjoy Scherbakov’s performances of these transcriptions. At the Naxos price, it is well worth hazarding the purchase.

-- Tim Perry, MusicWeb International [on Symphony Nos. 7 & 8]

My initial reason for wanting to listen to this was curiosity but I will re-listen in the future because the experience was much more compelling than I had expected. It made me think afresh about a work I thought I knew well. Each time I have listened to it I have marvelled at Beethoven’s music, Liszt’s conception for the piano, and Scherbakov’s musicianship and virtuosity.

This is a magnificent disc and listening to it is a truly uplifting experience.

-- Patrick C. Waller, MusicWeb International [on Symphony No. 9]
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