Celebrated as the greatest keyboard virtuoso of the 19th century, Franz Liszt composed large quantities of dazzling music for his performances and started a tradition that yielded many brilliant pianists for several generations. Behind the showmanship, however, Liszt was a thoughtful and innovative artist who championed many of his fellow composers and established the New German School, which strove to create the music of the future. This included the development of the character piece and the tone poem as essential Romantic forms, and even into his last years, Liszt composed some of his most personal works in these short, atmospheric miniatures. Volume 54 in Naxos' series of the complete piano music gathers the works of Liszt's old age, which include the Historical Hungarian Portraits, a suite of memorial pieces honoring the lives of artists and statesmen Liszt had known, as well as his Hungarian heritage. More than half of the album consists of the portraits and short mood studies that most people think of as "late Liszt," such as his tributes to his recently deceased son-in-law, Richard Wagner (R. W. - Venezia, and Am grabe Richard Wagners), Die Trauergondel II, the Trauervorspiel und Trauermarsch, and this disc's closing track, Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, reflecting Liszt's gloomy state of mind and his meditations on his own imminent death. Jenö Jandó has contributed many volumes to this Naxos series, and as a major Liszt authority, he plays these somber and spare vignettes with the same commitment he demonstrated in his recordings of the Hungarian Rhapsodies and many other albums in this long-running series.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Historische ungarische Bildnisse (Historical Hungarian Portraits), S205/R112|
Schlaflos! Frage und Antwort - Nocturne nach einem Gedicht von Toni Raab (Insomnia! Question and Answer - Nocturne based on a poem by Toni Raab), S203/R79
Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (Weeping, Lamenting, Worrying, Fearing) (Prelude after J.S. Bach), S179/R23