Bian Feng

Franz Liszt: Complete Piano Music, Vol. 46 - Berlioz Transcriptions

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Franz Liszt: Complete Piano Music, Vol. 46 - Berlioz Transcriptions Review

by Blair Sanderson

As a champion of his fellow composers' music, Franz Liszt was a generous arranger and tireless performer, and he lavished special attention on the music of his friend Hector Berlioz, whose large-scale orchestral and operatic works languished in France and were seldom heard across Europe. In addition to his faithful piano adaptation of Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, from which the L'idée fixe and the Marche au supplice are excerpted on Complete Piano Music, Vol. 46, Liszt also arranged Harold en Italie, the overtures King Lear and Les Francs-Juges, as well as selections from La Damnation de Faust and Benvenuto Cellini. These transcriptions are remarkably true to the originals, notwithstanding the occasional virtuosic touches that Liszt added for embellishment or to imitate orchestral sonorities. By 19th century standards, the music was fairly represented, and many listeners gained their first knowledge of Berlioz from these transcriptions. Feng Bian's manner is likely quite close to Liszt's intentions, not overly flashy or bombastic, but technically brilliant and expressive, and these engaging performances give an idea of how enjoyable the transcriptions were for Liszt's audiences. Feng's enthusiasm is clear in his energetic playing, though he also displays considerable sensitivity and delicacy, as in his performances of the Danse des Sylphs and the free fantasy on the L'idée fixe, which reflect Liszt's quieter side.

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