- A vintage Philips import pressing of these Classical Masterpieces that boasts excellent Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last, pressed on vinyl that’s about as quiet as we can find it
- The finest Liszt 1st and 2nd Piano Concertos we know of for their performances, and unquestionably for sonics (when the sonics are this good!)
- The better pressings of this title are more like live music than any classical recording you own (outside of one of our Hot Stamper pressings, of course; those can be every bit as good) or your money back
- So big, rich and transparent we guarantee you have never heard a better piano concerto recording
*NOTE: Unlike Concerto No. 1, The Second Piano Concerto opens very quietly, so there will likely never be a vintage pressing of the album that will get that opening to play like a CD. Expect to hear some random ticks, a small price to pay to hear this wonderful performance on top quality analog.
Richter and Kondrashin deliver the finest Liszt 1st & 2nd Piano Concertos I know of, musically, sonically and in every other way. Richter’s performance here is alternately energetic and lyrical, precisely as the work demands. The recording itself is explosively dynamic. The brass is unbelievably full, rich and powerful. You won’t find a better recording of this music anywhere, and this pressing just cannot be beat.
Big and rich (always a problem with piano recordings: you want to hear the percussive qualities of the instrument, but few copies can pull it off without sounding thin). We love the BIG, FAT, Tubey Magical sound of this recording! The piano is solid and powerful — like a real piano.
Huge amounts of hall space, weight and energy, this is DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND by any standard.
What the Best Sides of Liszt’s Piano Concertos Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1964
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
As we noted above, the better pressings of this album are more like live music than any other classical recording I have played in longer than I can remember. I don’t know of another piano concerto recording that more correctly captures the relationship between the piano and the orchestra. The piano is huge and powerful, yet the percussive and lighter qualities on the instrument are clearly heard in proper relation to the orchestra as a whole.
I simply cannot criticize the work that Fine and Cozart have achieved with this recording, and believe me, there are very few records in this world about which I could not find something to criticize. It is, after all, our job, and we like to set VERY high standards for the work we do.
What We’re Listening For On Liszt’s Piano Concertos 1 and 2
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Holland versus Italy
Some pressings come from Holland. Some are made in Italy. Which country produced the consistently best sound?
For any given side, one country’s pressings might be better than another’s, and thinking that you can predict the results of the shootout is mistaken indeed. That said, in our shootout from two years ago one country tended to do better on one side and one country tended to do better on the other. How did we know that?
At the end of the last three or four shootouts — all done without the person playing the record or the listener judging it having a clue as to which country’s pressing was on the turntable — one country tended to win one side and one country tended to win the other.
This time around one country produced the two better sounding copies. Next time around, who knows which country will win? That’s what shootouts are for.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
Piano Concerto No. 1
Piano Concerto No. 2
Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Dr. Richard E. Rodda
Liszt sketched his two piano concertos in 1839, during his years of touring the music capitals of Europe, but they lay unfinished until he became court music director at Weimar in 1848. The first ideas for the E-flat Concerto appeared in a notebook as early as 1830, but the score was not completed, according to a letter from Liszt’s eventual son-in-law, the pianist/conductor Hans von Bülow, until June 1849; it was revised in 1853. The premiere was part of a week of gala concerts honoring the music of Hector Berlioz at the Grand Ducal palace in Weimar, thus allowing the French composer to conduct while Liszt played. A memorable evening!
Liszt required of a concerto that it be “clear in sense, brilliant in expression, and grand in style.” In other words, it had to be a knockout. While it was inevitable that the E-flat Concerto would have a high degree of finger-churning display, it was not automatic that it should also be of fine musical quality — but it is. Liszt undertook an interesting structural experiment in the Concerto by fusing the substance of the concerto form with the architecture of the symphony. (“Music is never stationary,” he once pronounced. “Successive forms and styles can only be like so many resting places — like tents pitched and taken down again on the road to the Ideal.”)
Though the work is played continuously, four distinct sections may be discerned within its span: an opening Allegro, built largely from the bold theme presented immediately at the outset; an Adagio that grows from a lyrical, arched melody initiated by the cellos and basses; a vivacious, scherzo-like section enlivened by the glistening tintinnabulations of the solo triangle; and a closing Allegro marziale that gathers together the motives of the preceding sections into a rousing conclusion.
Of the finale, Liszt wrote, “It is only an urgent recapitulation of the earlier subject matter with quickened, livelier rhythm, and contains no new motive…. This kind of binding together and rounding off of a whole piece at its close is somewhat my own, but it is quite maintained and justified from the standpoint of musical form.”
Béla Bartók judged this Concerto, because of its grandiose recall and interpenetration of themes in the finale, to be “the first perfect realization of cyclical sonata form.” It was this formal concept — a single-movement work in several sections utilizing just one or two themes — that Liszt was also to use in his tone poems of the following two decades and in the Second Piano Concerto.
minor is heard as a march in E major later in the work, for instance. The work has not proven as popular as the composer’s first piano concerto but has stayed in the repertoire.
The largest and best known portion of Liszt’s music is his original piano work… Liszt’s piano works are usually divided into two classes. On the one hand, there are “original works”, and on the other hand “transcriptions”, “paraphrases” or “fantasies” on works by other composers…
Liszt also made piano arrangements of his own instrumental and vocal works. Examples of this kind are the arrangement of the second movement “Gretchen” of his Faust Symphony and the first “Mephisto Waltz” as well as the “Liebesträume No. 3” and the two volumes of his “Buch der Lieder”.