<<< << -- 5 -- Alistair Hinton THE BOTTOM OF MY LIS(Z)T??
Similarly, one of the most salient characteristics of the best of Liszt's operatic fantasias for piano is that they stand apart from -- and head and shoulders above -- the mere potpourri-like workings of so many of his lesser contemporaries. As with his Beethoven symphony versions (albeit in different ways), Liszt the 'operatic fantasist' established himself as a kind of supreme translator from one medium to another and, in so doing, demonstrated how the piano could not only characterise operatic material but invest it with wholly new significance; works such as the Norma and Don Giovanni fantasies are, therefore, far from merely reflective and reactive, for they respectively turn Bellini's and Mozart's work into something that neither composer would or could have imagined, yet without detracting from the originals, let alone displaying disrespect towards them. His piano transcriptions of some of Schubert's songs are (especially when compared to Godowsky's later ones) remarkably faithful to the originals, yet at the same time Liszt still elegantly contrives to turn them into new works in their own right.
In his final summing-up (or rather dressing-down), Mr Standford delivers his graceless coup de grace by curtly writing Liszt off as 'not really a composer'; whilst I would not seek personally to advocate that he (Mr Standford, that is) be 'cast away in some isolated place, far from the civilized world and its trappings' -- still less invited there by Kirsty Young -- I do rather wonder whether at least some of his M&V readership might consider such a period of self-reflective isolation to be a well-deserved fate for someone who believes that Liszt's legacy barely extends beyond that of a flamboyantly great pianist and generous-spirited 'arranger'. In any case, were Mr Standford actually to be cast away on that famous desert island, he might be gravely disappointed to find that there are already quite a few Liszt discs there! ...
Copyright © 5 July 2007
Alistair Hinton, Bath UK
PATRIC STANDFORD'S ARTICLE ABOUT LISZT
ALISTAIR HINTON'S 'INTERVAL TALK'
FREDERIC CHIU PLAYS LISZT
PROVOCATIVE THOUGHTS FROM PATRIC STANDFORD
A CLASSICAL MUSIC MISCELLANY