BEETHOVEN: “Beethoven/Liszt” = Symphonies Nos. 7 & 1 (arr. for piano by Liszt) – Yury Martynov, Érard piano 1837 – Zig-Zag Records

by | Dec 27, 2013 | Classical CD Reviews

BEETHOVEN: “Beethoven/Liszt” =  Symphonies No. 7 Op. 92; No. 1 Op. 21 (arr. for piano by Franz Liszt) – Yury Martynov, Érard piano 1837 – Zig-Zag Records B009ZWHJRG, 67:17 [3/5/13] [Distr. by Naxos] *****: 

Blazing away on an Érard piano of 1837, superbly prepared to have the same sonic resources that were available to Liszt, Yury Martynov recreates in a surrealistically phantasmagoric way the experience of hearing two of Beethoven’s most muscular  symphonies with a power and speed no orchestra, for all their massed strings and industrial strength modern instruments, could ever hope to match, even today.

Recorded with ideally clear ambience in a church in Haarlem, the almost unnaturally perfect natural sound captures Martynov’s every nuance, trill and thunderous roll with a riveting narrative flow bordering breathtakingly between respect and theatricality.

It is a testament to the visionary quality of how profoundly Liszt’s Technicolor recreations probed the mind of Beethoven, especially considering their legitimacy of having been written by a colleague of similar stature and genius within decades of the master’s death. (Of course, as with Hummel and Mozart, it doesn’t always work.)

After hearing 45 wonderful minutes of the Seventh, the gentler strains of the First Symphony No. 1 come initially as a relief until the first Allegro begins and Liszt-abetted Beethoven again picks up the pace with all possible charm and grace.

This CD is also a brilliant testament to the remarkable work being done by the Dutch master Edwin Beunk whom I met this year during the 20th annual Moritzburg Chamber Music Festival. He had hand-carried the instrument on which Kristian Bezuidenhout played in two uniquely memorable Mozart reconnoiterings which, due to the sonic properties of Beunk’s loving restoration, opened entirely new vistas on what Mozart intended to be heard.

As does Yury Martynov for Beethoven here.

—Laurence Vittes

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