Notes and Editorial Reviews
An insight into Liszt’s recreative practices with his own pieces.
Pierian’s devotion to the piano roll continues with this closely focused selection of rolls recorded by Liszt students. A roll call of the august names alerts one to the historic frissons of the project. Bernhard Stavenhagen, Eugen d'Albert, Frederic Lamond, Alexander Siloti and José Vianna da Motta are some of the major musicians encountered in this twofer. But we also have resonant names such as those of Vera Timanoff and George Liebling who may be known only by a few. In the middle come such as Richard Burmeister, Arthur Friedheim and Conrad Ansorge.
Stavenhagen was 43 when he recorded the two rolls collated here. He annotated
these as being performed ‘as played by Liszt’, a feature that he shared with Alfred Reisenauer, whose own brace of rolls was recorded in the same year, 1905. This would have been twenty years after both had studied with Liszt, so their claims may be thought ambitious, unless they’d notated the actual performances; but maybe they do contain embellishments that give one an insight into Liszt’s recreative practices with his own pieces, and for this they do embody a historical continuum that takes us well into the twentieth century in respect of a (tentative) Lisztian performance tradition.
I’m not aware that ether of these pianists made disc or cylinder recordings, which makes the existence of these rolls all the more important, albeit one’s caveats about the process, which I’ve expressed in my many piano roll reviews, should be borne in mind. D’Albert did make recordings but not of the two pieces he essays here, so they are of valid supplementary interest. Sauer of course left behind a fair example of his art on disc – the complete commercial recordings are on Marston – but though he did record
On Wings of Song (Spanish Regal, c.1927) he didn’t set down
The robust pianism of da Motta is captured in this October 1905 roll. He and Friedman have recently been conjoined in a CD release of their commercial 78 recordings [Symposium 1343; ‘The Pupils of Liszt’]. Child prodigy Vera Timanoff (b.1855) is the earliest born of these pianists. Burmeister plays an occasionally quixotic
Ave Maria whilst Ansorge cements his reputation on disc with this roll. Finally we have Lamond who performs the ubiquitous Liebesträume No.3 and two different rolls of
Un Sospiro, one from 1905, the other from 1924. His rolls of the latter piece are much more lateral than his numerous disc recordings of it, which were made between 1921 and ’36. Finally we have a spoken BBC broadcast Lamond made in 1945 concerning his time with Liszt. This first saw the light of day on a Michael G Thomas LP, and is a precious souvenir of a musician who died a few years later.
-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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