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Liszt: Lebenswanderung - Kaptein

Liszt: Lebenswanderung - Kaptein

trptk  TTK0111

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Instrumental


Alexandre Kaptein (piano)


"Composer, pianist, organist, and conductor Franz Liszt is a fascinating and intriguing figure in the music world. His legendary and charismatic personality, along with his musical innovations, significantly influenced Romanticism and the subsequent generations of composers. Liszt’s innovations involved the changing role of the piano, the development of tonality, and the connection of art, literature, and religion with music.

I recently discovered Liszt’s transcriptions and was amazed at their quantity. Almost half of his œvre consists of arrangements of music by other composers, and song transcriptions are a specific subcategory. Here, Liszt creates “Lieder ohne Worte” or “songs without words” because the poetry and text, which are crucial elements of the songs, are missing. It’s fascinating to see how Liszt translates the poetic content into the musical narrative, creating an additional interpretive layer that enhances the symbolic content of the poem. Through pianistic and virtuosic elaborations, Liszt changes the aesthetic of the performance. Playing and analyzing these transcriptions has changed my love and appreciation for these pieces. We’re fortunate to have Liszt’s transcriptions notated, since they are translations from one medium to another, bringing out what Liszt believed to be the essence of the original composition, becoming far less ambiguous than the original compositions."

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Review by Adrian Quanjer - May 3, 2024

I'm not too fond of Liszt’s piano transcriptions. I consider his transcriptions of Beethoven’s Symphonies more as ‘helpful’ to those who do not dispose of a symphony orchestra at home, and many other such efforts as a mere vehicle to show his virtuosity. Moreover, however creative, in my view they don’t always do justice to the original. Reason enough to dive into the deep and with a critical mind toward this new TRPTK release.

The name Alexandra Kaptijn is new to me. The liner notes describe in detail her cum laude studies and the prizes she has won. However, at the end of the day, listening to her playing is all that really counts. And yes, the quality of the recording as well. The high-resolution niche connoisseurs know that sound quality is an indispensable element of a make-or-break appreciation.

With all this in mind, I sat down to listen with a blank sheet in front of me to pass judgement on Franz Liszt, Alexandra Kaptijn, and Brendon Heinst, or rather the composition and the interpreter because neither I nor - as far as I’m aware - the connoisseurs have so far ever been able to fault TRPTK’s recording engineer.

I can understand Alexandra’s excitement about these transcriptions. Her enthusiasm made me think twice. Far removed from some of his more bombastic stuff, Liszt’s rescoring of Schubert’s and Franz’s Lieder is indeed a testament to a true musician’s ingenuity in building a melody into an increasingly monumental entity. My sceptical mood having been swept off the table, it opened the way to value the one who has taken on the task of conveying - with the complicity of Brendon’s intermediate insight - the compositional result to us, the listeners. To great success.

Liszt wouldn’t be Liszt if he had not sought to incorporate numerous complexities into the structure of the scores. However, under the capable hands of Alexandra, these difficulties disappear into handsome ornaments animating each of the transcriptions. The apparent ease with which she paints the varying colours and poetry of the 24 Lieder is simply amazing. I rest my case. This young Dutch pianist has done it for me. Thanks a lot, Alexandra!

Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France.

Copyright © 2024 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net

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