Ivan Ilić

Ivan Ilić plays Haydn Symphonies Transcribed by Carl David Stegmann

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It's common enough to say that prior to recordings, transcriptions were the primary medium through which classical masterpieces circulated among general listeners. Publishers supplied a strong demand for works from the late 18th century and well into the 19th, made into chamber pieces or solo or duo piano works. The reduction of symphonies to solo piano is perhaps less common than duo piano versions or piano quintet versions, and what has been heard in this realm so far consists mostly of Liszt's Beethoven symphony transcriptions. The Haydn renderings heard here are something different: not virtuoso treatments, but simplified versions suited for playing at home. They were made in the early 1810s by Carl David Stegmann for Beethoven's publisher Simrock; pianist Ivan Ilić notes correctly that they may not have been intended for public performance. Obviously, a lot of music gets lost, but these versions are of considerable historical interest: through Stegmann's ears, you hear something of how the early 19th century heard Haydn. He's ready to sacrifice lots of detail, even the bass line at times, to bring the tunes to the fore. The textures are necessarily pretty thin (sample the first movement of the Symphony No. 75 for representative passages), but Stegmann has various ways of suggesting, rather than reproducing, busier material. This may be of the most interest to Classical-period buffs, but it's worthwhile for Haydn libraries in general.

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