Beethoven: The 9 Symphonies, Transcribed for Piano by Liszt

Beethoven: The 9 Symphonies, Transcribed for Piano by Liszt
Composer Ludwig van Beethoven
Artist Giovanni Bellucci piano
Format 5 CD
Cat. number 94863
EAN code 5028421948638
Release October 2022

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About this release

Issued complete for the first time, a new recording of Franz Liszt’s iconic piano transcriptions of the nine Beethoven symphonies.

As the Italian pianist Giovanni Bellucci remarks in an extensive booklet introduction, this album is the fruit of study over the past 20 years and more, into the worlds of both Beethoven and Liszt and their meeting point in these transcriptions where the Hungarian composer sought to honour his forebear as the original leader of an artistic movement we now think of as Romanticism, where the composer places himself at the front and centre of his works.
Liszt’s transcriptions diverged from the ready-made arrangements which publishers rapidly produced and reprinted to meet the demands of amateur and domestic audiences. Here, the symphonic world of Beethoven is not merely experienced as a distant echo but translated into the idiom of the virtuoso piano which swept across Europe during the latter half of the 19th century, led by Liszt and Clara Schumann.

Thus in these performances, Bellucci seeks a kind of fidelity to the Romantic age of the transcriptions rather than the Classical age of the original works. Taking broad tempi and probing deeply into textures which, after all, condense the soundworld of an entire orchestra into the span of ten fingers, Bellucci presents an individual and compelling new vision of works which renew themselves at the hands of each new generation’s interpreters.

The cycle reaches its climax with the Ninth, recorded live at the 2014 Lisztomania Festival in France, with the participation of the Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno and soloists Hana Škarková, Lucie Hilscherová, Michal Lehotský and Martin Gurbal. Other studio sessions have taken place in the famous Salle de Musique at La Chaux de Fonds in Switzerland, between 2018 and 2021. ‘In completing the project,’ Bellucci remarks, ‘I would like to borrow Franz Liszt’s words and make them mine, albeit just for a moment: ‘The piano is, for me, what the frigate is for the sailor, indeed, perhaps even more, because the piano is my word, is my life.’

In transcribing the 9 Beethoven symphonies for piano solo Franz Liszt (1811-1886) not only made these symphonic masterworks available for domestic use but also demonstrated his immense creativity, insight, knowledge and pianistic resources. The work of a true genius these transcriptions reveal the essential language and message of Beethoven, written down in pianism of the highest quality and difficulty, in this sense still valuable today.
It takes a pianist of near superhuman powers and virtuosity to do justice to these scores. Giovanni Bellucci is such a pianist. Not only he “plays all the notes” but he is able to recreate the grandeur, drama, lyricism and intimacy of the original, presenting a monument made up of countless details.
Giovanni Bellucci is one of the most interesting and extraordinary pianists of today. Described by Piero Rattalino as “a force of nature, vast and palpitating”, his playing is highly original, striving to recreate the original impact of the works he is playing: “he takes us back to the Golden Age of the Piano” wrote Le Monde. His recordings, notably with works by Liszt, were showered with prizes such as Diapason d’Or, Choc, Editor’s Choice, CD Maestro etc.
For Brilliant Classics Giovanni Bellucci is recording the complete Beethoven Sonatas, two 3-CD issues of which are released by now.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21: I. Adagio molto – Allegro con brio
  2. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21: II. Andante cantabile con moto
  3. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21: III. Menuetto. Allegro molto e vivace
  4. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21: IV. Adagio – Allegro molto e vivace
  5. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 55 “Eroica”: I. Allegro con brio
  6. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 55 “Eroica”: II. Marcia funebre. Adagio assai
  7. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 55 “Eroica”: III. Scherzo. Allegro vivace – Trio
  8. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 55 “Eroica”: IV. Finale. Allegro molto – Poco andante – Presto

Disk 2

  1. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36: I. Adagio molto –Allegro con brio
  2. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36: II. Larghetto
  3. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36: III. Scherzo. Allegro – Trio
  4. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36: IV. Allegro molto
  5. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67: I. Allegro con brio
  6. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67: II. Andante con moto
  7. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67: III. Scherzo. Allegro
  8. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67: IV. Allegro

Disk 3

  1. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 4 in B-Flat Major, Op. 60: I. Adagio – Allegro vivace
  2. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 4 in B-Flat Major, Op. 60: II. Adagio
  3. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 4 in B-Flat Major, Op. 60: III. Allegro vivace –Un poco meno allegro
  4. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 4 in B-Flat Major, Op. 60: IV. Allegro ma non troppo
  5. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92: I. Poco sostenuto – Vivace
  6. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92: II. Allegretto
  7. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92: III. Presto – Assai meno presto
  8. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92: IV. Allegro con brio

Disk 4

  1. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 “Pastorale”: I. Erwachen heiterer Empfindungen bei der Ankunft auf dem Lande. Allegro ma non troppo
  2. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 “Pastorale”: II. Szene am Bach. Andante molto moto
  3. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 “Pastorale”: III. Lustiges Zusammensein der Landleute. Allegro
  4. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 “Pastorale”: IV. Donner. Sturm. Allegro
  5. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 “Pastorale”: V. Hirtengesang. Frohe und dankbare Gefühle nach dem Sturm. Allegretto
  6. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93: I. Allegro vivace e con brio
  7. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93: II. Allegretto scherzando
  8. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93: III. Tempo di Menuetto
  9. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93: IV. Allegro vivace

Disk 5

  1. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 “Ode to Joy”: I. Allegro ma non troppo un poco maestoso
  2. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 “Ode to Joy”: II. Molto vivace – Presto
  3. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 “Ode to Joy”: III. Adagio molto e cantabile – Andante moderato
  4. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 “Ode to Joy”: IV. Presto – Allegro assai – Allegro assai vivace, alla marcia – Andante maestoso – Adagio ma non troppo, ma divoto – Allegro energico, sempre ben marcato – Allegro ma non tanto – Poco adagio – Poco allegro, stringendo il tempo, sempre più allegro – Prestissimo – Maestoso – Prestissimo