Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cyprien Katsaris plays Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony

   Romanticism was the time of great success of Ludwig van Beethoven’s music. In the times of the birth of romantic ideology and a growing worship surrounding artists, poets and composers, the last great Vienna classic became the social mind hero. He was seen as an unrivaled creator of music reaching highest levels of metaphysical mysteries and human spiritual powers. Especially his symphonies and sonatas were considered as the exposure of 19th century mind. And this music was played not only in original settings, but also by every possible instruments and ensembles. Piano sonatas were transcribed for various chamber lineups to meet social needs. The same way, the whole cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies was present virtually in everyday life with its various piano transcriptions. Some were easy, like four-hands editions for home playing, others were highly artistic arrangements demanding virtuoso pianist.
   One of greatest piano virtuoso ever and the prominent composer of 19th century was Franz Liszt (he was also known under the name Franz Ritter von Liszt or Hungarian form of his name as Liszt Ferenc). He was strong personality in New German School (Neudeutsche Schule) forcing new ideas in writing and constructing musical forms. An important part of his artistic activity were public performances as the master of romantic piano. Like every romantic virtuoso Liszt was composer of his own repertoire but also and author of numerous piano transcriptions. He was not only transcribing music for piano, organ and other instruments, making many free editing changes, composing paraphrases, variations, reminiscences, fantasias and other creative elaborations common in romantic culture. Among most famous were his transcriptions of music by Richard Wagner who was Liszt’s son-in-law and complete of nine Beethoven’s symphonies.

Cyprien Katsaris – Beethoven-Liszt Symphony No.7 (1985)

   Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 was transcribed by Franz Liszt in 1838 along with Fifth and Sixth. Five years later he transcribed Third. Other transcriptions were unpublished while Liszt was playing them during his European touring. In 1863 Breitkopf & Härtel ordered transcriptions for planned publication of complete set. Cyprien Katsaris, one of the best pianists recording in last four decades, recorded this one in 1985 for Teldec complete edition pressed in Direct Metal Mastering technology. This recording has all the advantages to become a legend. Virtuoso cycle of great works demands great technique as well as great intellectual and emotional possibilities. And Cyprien Katsaris is one the only artist with such temperament and professional possibilities. Powerful sound, wide range of dynamic and expression means, deep emotionalism and suitable distance to the form – these are qualities giving Katsaris' recordings exceptional place between best achievements of piano masters.
   Program of the album comprises also 1982 recording of Robert Schumann’s Exercises (original title is Etüden in Form freier Variationen über ein Thema von Beethoven, WoO 31). The choice is strongly justified since basic subject of the Exercises is the Allegretto theme of the same Beethoven’s Symphony. The comparison of these two compositions shows stylistic difference between Schumann and Liszt piano works. This is also a perfect occasion to experience the versatility of Cyprien Katsaris’ pianistic art. This is phenomenal attribute of his art. His interpretations are always subjected to a composer’s style to the point he is hard to recognize as a performer. He owes his position to unforgettable renditions of Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart and great set of late romantic virtuoso music. In Liszt’s transcriptions of Beethoven’s music there are all qualities of his art. Five stars (out of five) for rendition which is so much complete.

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