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V 30: Complete Piano Music - S

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Product Details

  • Performer: Gianluca Luisi
  • Composer: Liszt Franz
  • Audio CD (Feb. 22 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ncl
  • ASIN: B002JB4108
  • In-Print Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #257,814 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Complete on 99 CDs, Leslie Howard's recordings of Liszt's piano music are among one of the monumental achievements in the history of recorded music. Remarkable as much for its musicological research and scholarly rigor as for Howard's Herculean piano playing, this survey remains invaluable to serious lovers of Liszt. Every known note of Liszt's piano music has been recorded and is included here: Leslie Howard's 57 original volumes plus the further three supplements. The set has been awarded a Guinness World Record for the world's largest recording series by a solo artist.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa71d881c) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
130 of 132 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7312420) out of 5 stars A towering, monumental achievement Feb. 10 2011
By JC ESQ - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
In October 1985, Leslie Howard embarked on a journey, one which became his Everest expedition. When it ended, in April 2009, he had reached the summit of recordings: 7,256 minutes (almost 121 hours) of every note that Ferenc (Franz) Liszt wrote for the piano. The first 95 discs were recorded by 1999, and four additional ones (Liszt: New Discoveries) were made over the next 10 years as new manuscripts were discovered. In 2010, Hyperion Records, founded by the late Ted Perry who gave the green light to Howard's journey, decided to issue a box set of all 99 discs, and what we have is a magnificent product that no Liszt lover should be without.

Since almost all of the individual CDs have been reviewed separately here on Amazon, I will endeavor to review the physical aspects of the set. First, the box: it is quite sturdy, very smooth to the touch, and not at all like some of the cheap offerings from other classical labels. Inside are the 99 CDs, arranged as they might be if sitting on a CD shelf, and color-coded by sleeve as follows:

Discs 1-6: Etudes and early works
Discs 7-19: Major original compositions
Discs 20-29: Dances, marches, & transcriptions of Liszt's own works
Discs 30-36: Pieces on national themes
Discs 37-49: Operatic fantasies, transcriptions, and paraphrases
Discs 50-61: Concert transcriptions
Discs 62-69: The Beethoven transcriptions
Discs 70-79: The Schubert transcriptions
Discs 80-94: Rare works and new discoveries
Discs 95-99: Music for piano and orchestra

Each individual cardboard sleeve lists the contents for that individual disc, with track timings. Sitting on top of the discs is a very slick booklet, which contains the following:

-A biography of Leslie Howard.
-A disc and track index (without timings).
-An introduction to Liszt's music and the recording project itself (in four languages).
-An index of Liszt's piano music by "S" number (based on the numbering done by Humphrey Searle); at the end of each entry, numbers indicate where a particular piece can be found, by disc and track location.
-An alphabetical title index of Liszt's piano music, again with numbers to locate the piece by disc and track.
-Reproductions of photos (yes, there are photos of Liszt !) and other depictions of Liszt.

In addition, one may download, at Hyperion's web site, all of the liner notes which accompanied each CD release over the years, including original color artwork of each disc cover. Those liner notes and artwork can be downloaded at this page: [...]

I visually inspected each of the 99 discs, and they are all flawless, which itself is an amazing achievement. The set arrived at my home two days ago, and I have listened to 5 discs (most of which are timed well over 70 minutes). The recorded sound is transparent, detailed, and full (but uncongested), something that Hyperion has perfected and which other labels only strive for. Howard's playing is amazing; there may be better versions of individual pieces, but I doubt that his general level of excellence over the long haul can be matched, at least not in my lifetime.

To be able to buy this set for $274 (which is what I paid) is a steal, a bargain, a no-brainer ... use whatever similar analogy you'd like. That works out to about $2.77 per disc. In this year 2011, the 200th anniversary of Liszt's birth, to have a set like this, at a price like Hyperion is offering, is a gift. Thank you to Leslie Howard and to Hyperion for enriching the lives of classical music lovers everywhere.
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa731266c) out of 5 stars An historic recording March 18 2011
By Howard Garrett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The complete piano works of Liszt consists of 99 CD's- all played by the remarkable Australian living in U.K. Leslie Howard. My understanding is that Guiness lists this set as the largest recording project ever attempted by one individual in recording history. That should be no surprise. Until reading about this incredible collection of the work of Liszt I would have thought you could have complete Liszt piano works in about 15 or so discs. I had no idea he was this prolific. Not only did he compose this much and more, but the was the Elvis Presley of his age and has been called the greatest pianist/showman of all time. Some of the music are transcriptions of lieder, symphonies, opera selections, etc. They were done so the average 19th century household with a piano could enjoy a Beethoven Symphony, a Schubert song, etc. But even these pieces were done with taste and imagination. Leslie Howard is a great pianist who claims he has the largest reportoire in history. His playing has fire when reqauired and quietness when required. Not all of the music is great- some pieces are mediocre. But this is even true of Back from time to time. Most of the pieces are new to me- and probably everyone else. Mr. Howard has done a great public service much as Fischer-Dieskau did when he recorded all of Schubert's 600 or so songs. There are so many musical treasures that are never heard except through recordings like this one. The Hyperion recording sound is superb, the budget price of the set is more than fair. Overall, this is a must for any piano afficionado.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7312630) out of 5 stars What a feat! Dec 28 2011
By Joseph A. Bongiorno - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase

by jbongiornochi

I have been followong Leslie Howard's complete-Liszt-piano-music project from afar for a number of years. I assumed (always dangerous)he was a second-tier pianist trying to make a name for himself by attacking a humungous feat. His article in Wikipedea makes no mention of any activity in the United States, which was another strike against him.

I was wrong. His playing is world-clss technically and musically. The quality is persistent throughout, with an unceasing elan. You'd think he'd approach some of the music lackadaisically: "Ho hum, another thirty waltzes today." Not so, at least not in the samples I listened to.

Okay, I figured, let's start with The Sonata. As good as any I've heard. The Beethoven-symphony transcriptions: better than any I've heard. Opera paraphrases and transcriptions: Superb.

Comments on the opera works: such works were allegedly written for home use because so few poeple would afford to go to live performances. If so, the amateur players at home must have beeen awfully talented, because it sounds like it would take players of Liszt's talent to play them. Second, they are best listened a disc at a time, because there are only so many "frills" Liszt could use -- scales and cadensas in thirds and fifths, arpeggios, thundering bass (How often is bass not "thundering"?) -- and in time they can become tiresome, although through no fault of Howard's. Many of them address operas by composers who have passed into the darkness of obscurity.

He fantasized-paraphrased-transcribed other works of countless composers, not only of Beethoven, Liszt (yes, he transcribed his orchestral tone poems,Rossini, and Schubert and Schubert and Schubert -- nine-and-a-half CDs of Schubert alone -- and scores of others. There are more transcriptions and parpaphrases of others' work than there are original compositions of his own. Again, I've never heard of many of the composers.

His voicing is perfect: the melody is always there.

Packaging is unsurpassed. The big box is color-coded for the different types of music, and the contents of each CD are printed on each sleeve.

Shop around. You should be able to get a better price than the list price or the Amazon price.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7312924) out of 5 stars A monumental recording feat; an equal task of listening May 4 2011
By William C. Norvell, Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Wow! 98 CD's of outstanding composition and playing. This set provides evidence of List's contribution to the later romantic styles of Wagner, Mahler and early 20th century composers. This set gives the listener an idea of just how great a piano player Mr. List was. These recordings are technically excellent, although the Bosendorfer results in some high pitched reverberations that might have been eliminated or reduced by use of some acoustic modifiers in place at the recording halls. But then, again, the resulting sound might not reflect the real Bosendorfer sound. I would have preferred the use of a Steinway, but that is just my personal preference, and not to take away anything from these fine performances. This is just an outstanding contribution to recorded classical music and really fills a serious void in the catalog. This is more than the equivalent of the first complete recording of Wagner's Ring. The price is right, and the box and sleeves and booklet are first class. A "must" for collectors who want to broaden their knowledge of works heretofore unavailable.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7312e1c) out of 5 stars Do you like classical piano music? Then buy this. Aug. 21 2014
By K. Conover - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
As I child, I learned of Liszt's music from his orchestral music. Smash, bang, not all that impressive. Indeed, as I learned more about music, I realized that Liszt's knowledge of instrumentation and orchestration could fit into Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's left earlobe.

But then, as an undergraduate music student at the University of Virginia in the 1970s, I was forced to listen to and study the Sonata in B minor. While Liszt's orchestral music had left me unimpressed, the Sonata was wrenching, heartbreaking music... some of the most profound piano music, or music of any sort, I had ever heard.

So when Leslie Howard started on his recording marathon, I started buying the CDs.I was hooked. I ended up buying each one separately.

You would expect that out of such a gargantuan opus, some would not be masterpieces, and this is so. Surprisingly, though, 99%, including the many orchestral transcriptions, _are_ indeed masterpieces.

Liszt may not have had a clue how to instrument and orchestrate his musical ideas, but -- when writing for the piano, at least for a virtuoso like Liszt himself, or Leslie Howard - he is second to none, notwithstanding Chopin or Schubert. Certainly, this was music he wrote to perform live during his sold-out rock-star concert tours, but it is still high art.

And his transcriptions of opera, theater music, string music, and all of Beethoven's symphonies are themselves masterworks. His ability to to capture the essence of this music rises to the level of genius. Admittedly, it takes a virtuoso talent with a deep understanding and appreciation of the music to bring this out in performance, and here Leslie Howard shines. Indeed, the combination of Liszt and Howard provides these transcriptions with some of the best performances of the works ever recorded. For one particular example: the Hummel septet. The piano version here brings out a grace and sweetness I have never experienced in a live or recorded performance with the original instrumentation. It brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.

If you buy this set, you will get far more than your money's worth.

Additional thoughts, upon listening again to the 9 CDs of Liszt's "transcriptions" of Schubert's music, which are some of the best of this collection. "Transcription" does not do these pieces justice. They might better be called "transfigurations." With his characteristic lack of concern for the difficulty of the music, Liszt presents much of Schubert's best piano music in, not a new light, but in the best light. Carrying this metaphor further, it's as if Liszt invites you to into an the invites you to view the ancient stained-glass windows of a Gothic cathedral, which you have only seen on your smartphone before. He's meticulously cleaned the windows, and brought you there on the precisely best date and time. The sunlight streams through the windows, illuminating them to best effect. In truth, these reinterpretations, played effortlessly by Leslie Howard, are the essence of Schubert, distilled to clarity, without any impositions by Liszt. These CDs contain some of the greatest art produced by the human race.