Liszt's Influence Explored

Liszt's impact on other composers is examined on this intriguing project played by Pierre-Laurent Aimard.

Composer: Liszt, Wagner, Berg, Scriabin, Ravel, Messiaen, Stroppa

Repertoire: Various piano works
Artists: Pierre-Laurent Aimard (pf)
Rating: 4/5

Genre: Instrumental

Label: Deutsche Grammophon 477 9439

The Music: This is a fascinating idea: to take some of Liszt’s core piano works and explore how the man and his music influenced everything that followed. Aimard’s first programme is about Liszt the expressionist, and his followers – Berg, Scriabin, Wagner; the second concentrates on his impressionist works, along with Ravel, Bartók and Messiaen. The repertoire is challenging but worth the effort – you can hear how Liszt’s music was absorbed by other composers – his spare, tritone- based melodic lines, or the sparkling tone colours of the air, light and water depicted
in his musical postcards, the Années de Pélerinage.

The Performances: Aimard is a supremely intellectual pianist and his intense, rigorously thought-out playing illuminates the two programmes. The central work is the immense, B minor Sonata. Here Aimard’s approach is purposefully cool in order to highlight the structural elements of the piece and while there’s some exquisite hushed playing, the thunderous climaxes don’t build with quite enough abandon. The recorded piano sound is rather close and resonant. 

The Verdict: Fittingly for the composer’s bicentenary, this double recital proves that Liszt was one of the most radical and avant-garde composers of the 19th century. 

Want More? Explore Aimard’s impressive discography: he plays Bach’s Art of Fugue (DG, 477 7345).