Franz Liszt

Piano Concerto No. 2 in A major, S. 125 (LW H6)

    Description by Robert Cummings

    Liszt began work on his Piano Concerto No. 2 in 1839 and initially completed it in 1857. Further revisions were made over the course of the next few years and a final version was fashioned in 1861, with its publication in 1863. Like the first piano concerto, it is cast in a single movement although, unlike its sibling, the sections comprising it are numerous and less distinct, prompting some musicologists to view it as a symphonic poem with piano. W.F. Apthorp subtitled the concerto, "The life and adventures of a melody." His description is quite appropriate because, also like the First, the whole of this concerto derives from its opening melody, which, over the course of the work's 20 or so minutes, yields many transformations and variations. This is also a more intimate composition than the first, and, ironically, more bombastic, as well.

    The main theme is a long-breathed melancholy melody, first presented by the woodwinds. The piano enters in a modest, almost tentative way, playing filigree as the strings sweetly deliver the theme. The piano's deferential role ends with a dramatic, rippling plunge that keeps the instrument in the bass regions to introduce a menacing, rhythmic theme. The orchestra joins the grim proceedings, but the piano then incites further sonic mayhem with octave passages and other virtuosic fireworks. The orchestra takes over to punctuate the episode with a dramatic climax, after which the melody is played by a solo cello, accompanied by the piano. The piano then plays a variation on the melody, joined soon by the strings as the emotional pitch heightens. This section ends with sweetly descending scales and expectant swirls in the piano's upper register. This precedes bombastic chords from the piano, as the brass section blares out a variant of the theme. After a dreamy passage in the strings, the music intensifies and the piano breaks into furious octaves. A further buildup leads to another episode where the brass, now abetted by the piano, deliver a march-like variation of the opening melody. The music gradually winds down and the piano plays a straightforward rendering of the ubiquitous main theme, after which the woodwinds play in kind. This passage ends with the same kind of sweet, delicate cascading of notes that closed out the first extended slow section. Liszt invests the concerto's final episode with all manner of pianistic and orchestral fireworks.

    For all the brilliant variations and transformations of the Second Concerto, its music does not seem to arrive at a resolution resulting from some logical musical sequence. It is well crafted, but hardly profound. The work was premiered in Weimar on January 7, 1857, with the work's dedicatee, Hans von Bronsart, as soloist and Liszt conducting.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Adagio sostenuto assai - Allegro agitato assai
    2. Allegro moderato
    3. Allegro deciso - Marziale un poco meno allegro
    4. Allegro animato

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Universal Music
    2018 Audite 97738
    2018 Dynamic DYNCDS 780102
    2018 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 18041
    2017 Brilliant Classics 95564
    2017 Naxos 8503293
    2016 Sonoma 1482849
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 002894795516
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon
    2016 Decca / Philips 4788977
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4795448
    2015 K-Tel 136442
    2015 BIS BIS 2100
    2015 APR (Appian) APR 7701
    2014 Doron Music DRC 4025
    2014 AAO Music / Imperial Music & Media Plc UMMC81292
    2014 Decca
    2014 APR (Appian) APR 7401
    2013 Muso MU 005
    2013 Berlin Classics 0300540BC
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon
    2013 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099901924
    2012 Teldec 2564664684
    2012 Piano Classics PCLM 0041
    2012 Naxos 8501056
    2012 Broken Audio BRAU 0506
    2012 EMI Classics
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099960232
    2012 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186397
    2012 Decca / Mercury Living Presence 001653302
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099908380
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon B 001573902
    2011 Capriccio Records 7095
    2011 Hyperion CDA 67824
    2011 IDIS IDIS 6616
    2011 Piano 21 P 21041 N
    2011 Piano Classics PCLD 0015
    2011 Piano Classics PCLD 0020
    2011 Cascavelle VEL 3152
    2011 Red Bus Classical RCLAS 019
    2011 Newton Classics 8802058
    2011 EtCetera Records KTC 4037
    2011 Denon Records
    2011 Guild GHCD 2381
    2011 Decca
    2011 ZYX Music CLABOX 005
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94095
    2011 Mirare MIR 135
    2011 ZYX / ZYX Classical / ZYX Music CLA 101142
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 002894779525
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon / Universal
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 4779521
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Decca
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Savoy
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Regis Records RRC 1362
    2010 Decca
    2010 Cembal d'Amour 154
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 4763793
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon 4778167
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 Landscape Classics / Zebralution
    2009 Bmp 8571273
    2009 EMI Classics 13251
    2009 Erato
    2009 Erato / Warner Classics
    2009 Erato / Virgin Classics 5099968635
    2009 Berlin Classics 184522
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2008 ZYX Music CLS 1018
    2008 Urania 356
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93846
    2008 Naxos 8570517
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93700
    2008 Madacy 52954
    2008 Madacy 52952
    2008 Philips 4780421
    2008 Brilliant 93761
    2008 Decca 4780235
    2008 Sony Classical Essential Classics 731846
    2007 Decca
    2007 Erato
    2007 Virgin Classics 91369
    2007 Alto 1011
    2007 Apex
    2007 Berlin Classics 0185942
    2007 Opus KURA 2066
    2007 Claves 50-2707
    2007 BIS 1530
    2007 Cascavelle 2008
    2007 Belair Classiques BAC031
    2007 BBC Legends 5004
    2006 Philips 4757188
    2006 Warner Classics 510116033
    2006 Philips 473775
    2006 Danacord 651
    2006 MSR Records 1154
    2006 Chandos CHANX10371
    2006 Brilliant Classics 99668
    2005 Music & Arts 1174
    2005 Vox Aeterna 00101
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Audiophile Classics 101044
    2005 Sony Classical 94746
    2005 Decca
    2005 Delta Distribution 16327
    2005 Brilliant 92293
    2004 Dutton Laboratories 9742
    2004 Archipel 260
    2004 Music & Arts CD1140
    2004 United Audio Entertainment 6513
    2004 Decca
    2004 Decca 460831
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 85573
    2003 Monarch Records 2002
    2003 Berlin Classics 0183772BC
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 4745632
    2003 Brilliant 99936
    2003 Delta Distribution 40040
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 474024
    2002 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243574736
    2002 APR (Appian) 5584
    2002 Decca 470257
    2002 Chandos 9918
    2001 Lifestyles 150030
    2001 Forlane 7
    2001 Philips 464710
    2000 CBC Records 5202
    2000 BBC Music 4031
    2000 Tuxedo Music 1013
    2000 Teldec 21092
    2000 Seraphim UK 74012
    2000 Arkadia 78572
    2000 Q Disc 97015
    2000 Pearl 0095
    2000 Pearl GEMMCD0095
    1999 The Piano Library 222
    1999 Philips 454987
    1999 Philips 456859
    1999 Brilliant 99936/1
    1999 Decca 4583612
    1999 Intersound 3856
    1999 Philips 446924
    1999 Ivory Records IC70906
    1998 Marston 53002
    1998 Historical Piano 057
    1998 Hyperion CDA67403/4
    1998 Delta Distribution 11543
    1998 Agora Musica 149
    1997 Vox 5172
    1997 VMK 1057
    1997 Point Classics 267021
    1997 Carlton Classics 6702147
    1996 Telarc Distribution 80429
    1996 Music & Arts CD-945
    1996 Philips 446920
    1995 APR (Appian) CDAPR 7023
    1995 Chandos 9360
    1995 Discover 920212
    1995 Royal Opera 6445
    1995 Teldec 96517
    1995 Berlin Classics 0011302
    1995 Philips 446200
    1994 Madacy 3622
    1994 Vox 5106
    1994 Naxos 550187
    1994 RCA 902662679
    1993 Pearl 9403
    1993 Sony Classical 53289
    1992 EMI Music Distribution 67366
    1992 Sony Music Distribution 48167
    1992 London 433075
    1990 RCA 7834
    1990 Hungaroton 31362
    1990 Mercury 432 002-2MM
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 423571
    1987 Deutsche Grammophon 415 839-2GGA
    Decca 4757747/5
    RFCM Symphony Orchestra
    Supraphonet 111110
    Columbia River Entertainment Group 1145
    BMG 60953
    Pickwick 14
    Virgin 59613
    Virgin 518
    Tuxedo Music 9001
    Excelsior Recordings 24255
    Erato 88035
    DA Music 72218
    Forlane 13143
    Musique d'Or 1041
    RCA 62679
    As Disc 509
    Fonit-Cetra Italia 3012
    Erato 45206
    Supraphon 110662
    Laserlight 631
    RPO 5001
    Lyrinx 125
    Vox 9036
    BBC Legends / BBC Music 40892
    Elap Records 3226
    Quintessence 2105
    RCA 57916
    Philips 434163
    IMP BBC Radio Classics 9108
    Apex 4620442
    Brilliant 92293/6
    Diamond Classics 280703
    Brilliant Classics 99668/18
    Philips 412006
    Philips Classics 416461
    AVM 3004
    Decca 97015
    Intaglio 707
    Disques Montaigne 1988
    EMI Music Distribution 54648
    Music & Arts 760
    Bianco 2433
    B&N 2433
    Pro-Arte Records 943
    Winterthur 2006