Notes and Editorial Reviews
Franz Liszt viewed his solo piano transcriptions of the Beethoven Symphonies as a means to disseminate these works and make them accessible to the general public. This, of course, was decades before Edison invented recorded sound, and a century before umpteen Beethoven cycles jockeyed for position on the CD racks. Why listen to Beethoven's symphonies on the piano, then, when orchestral versions are everywhere to be had? I can answer that question in four words: Liszt was a genius. He conveys the emotional essence of Beethoven's instrumentation in pianistic terms, with a sixth sense for when to fill in textures, as well as what to leave out. While the piano writing isn't particularly dense, the
keyboard layout involves frequent register shifts and busy contrapuntal activity. Konstantin Scherbakov's stupendous technique and grounded musicianship allows him to bring these elements into play with fluent ease and rock-solid rhythm. He may not inflect the Fifth Symphony's slow movement as ravishingly as Glenn Gould, but he faces the finale's notey hurdles without resorting to Gould's overdubbing tactics.
The Second Symphony is even better. Scherbakov's swift and steady first movement introduction slides into the Allegro con brio with insidious ease, and his heartfelt, pellucid Larghetto virtually plays itself. No tempo compromises in the Scherzo and Finale are neccesary under this pianist's pliable, secure hands. If Naxos continues this segment of its Liszt cycle with Scherbakov, it will have a worthy foil to counter Cyprien Katsaris' more personalized idiosyncratic Beethoven/Liszt symphony survey. The resonant, full-bodied, and clear sonics clinch my enthusiastic recommendation.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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