Franz Liszt

Erlkönig (II), transcription for piano, S. 558/4 (LW A42/4) (after Schubert, D. 328d)

    Description by Robert Cummings

    Liszt transcribed many of Schubert's songs for piano and Erlkönig (Elf-King) is one of his more widely performed efforts. Much of its popularity owes something, of course, to the masterful character of the famous Schubert original from 1815, which was fashioned from a text by Goethe. This is the second and most commonly played transcription of the song that Liszt made, the first version probably dating to around 1837. Listeners familiar with the Schubert song will know that the drama and darker elements in it must be effectively captured to make any transcriptive effort work. Liszt succeeds quite handsomely here, harnessing the desperation of the song's opening, which depicts the frantic ride through the forest of a father carrying his dying son. Liszt does not loosen his grip on the tension either, even when the mood turns warmer for brief periods in the middle part of the piece. The piano is generally churning or quivering or trembling, and now and then erupts with ominous roaring from the bass register. At the work's close, the music cruelly but appropriately depicts the boy's death with two emphatic chords that disrupt the otherwise peaceful ending. This piece typically has a duration of five minutes.

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2018
    APR (Appian)
    APR 7310
    2017
    Onyx Classics
    ONYX 4179
    2017
    Orlando Records
    OR 0029
    2017
    Decca / Philips Classics
    2016
    A Life of Music Records
    2016
    Delos
    DE 3520
    2016
    ABC Classics
    2015
    APR (Appian)
    APR 7701
    2014
    Sony Classical
    88843014642
    2013
    Entertainment Group
    13707
    2013
    Warner Classics
    2013
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099972533
    2013
    Decca
    2013
    Decca
    4785751
    2013
    Decca
    B001898702
    2013
    Decca
    2012
    Entertainment Group
    12507
    2012
    Decca
    2012
    Sony Classical
    88691912562
    2012
    Mariinsky
    MAR 0530
    2011
    Gramola
    GRAM 98931
    2011
    RCA Red Seal / Sony Classical
    88697839482
    2011
    CME Media
    561001
    2011
    Various Artists
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2011
    Various Artists
    Deutsche Grammophon
    002894779525
    2010
    Ars Musici
    232340
    2010
    Various Artists
    Sonoma
    179
    2010
    Various Artists
    Sonoma
    126
    2010
    Parnassus Records
    96025
    2010
    Piano 21
    21033
    2009
    ZMI
    104
    2008
    Madacy Entertainment
    53763
    2008
    Avi-Music
    8553023
    2008
    Deutsche Grammophon
    00440 073 4402
    2007
    Deutsche Grammophon
    445820
    2007
    EMI Music Distribution
    385853
    2007
    Bluthner
    10013
    2006
    Vox Aeterna
    00102
    2005
    Sony Classical
    94732
    2003
    Celestial Harmonies
    13228
    2003
    Alba
    168
    2001
    Naxos
    554729
    2001
    Dux Records
    324/5
    2000
    Tomol
    2957
    1999
    Grammofono 2000
    78924
    1999
    Aura Classics
    0161
    1999
    Sony Classical
    66511
    1999
    Grammofono 2000
    78945
    1997
    Capriccio Records
    10771
    1995
    Phonographe
    5027
    1995
    Decca
    1995
    London
    444851
    1995
    APR (Appian)
    5504
    1994
    VAI Audio
    1036
    1993
    Meridian Records
    84019
    1993
    Sony Music Distribution
    52567
    1991
    Koch Schwann
    310173
    Madacy Entertainment
    53764
    Various Artists
    Koch Discover International
    920224
    Music Tins
    53926
    Madacy
    53928
    Sony Music
    905
    Fone
    9010
    The Piano Library
    311
    Pearl
    9911
    Fonoteca
    960410
    Decca
    467801
    Pro-Arte Records
    3472
    Live Classics
    341
    Arcadia Recordings
    2003