Getting 'Wild and Crazy' With Liszt

Free Download! Daniel Barenboim playing Liszt's Liebestraum No. 3

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Franz Liszt, whose bicentennial is being celebrated this year, was a musician whose gifts as pianist and composer were rivaled by his status as a pop-culture phenomenon in the capitals of Europe. Liszt's life of excesses and contradictions, as revealed in a tell-all book by a former mistress, even inspired Ken Russell's 1975 film “Lisztomania,” starring a mostly bare-chested Roger Daltrey of The Who. Swooning women fans reportedly fought over Liszt's cigar stubs and wore bracelets made out of the broken piano strings from his piano.

It’s these biographical credentials that serve as the basis for “Liszt: Wild and Crazy,” a new two-CD collection containing some of Liszt’s most familiar and flamboyant piano music served up by the likes of Martha Argerich, Vladimir Horowitz, Lang Lang, Alice Sara Ott, Sviatolav Richter and others. Deutsche Grammophon raids its deep catalog to give us classic performances like the opening Mephisto Waltz No. 2 recorded by Vladimir Ashkenazy in 1971 and the incredible set of variations on “Dies Irae” called Totentanz, recorded by Jorge Bolet in 1985.

There aren't any real duds in the set. At the most outrageously exhibitionistic end of the spectrum are two of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies: No. 2 played by Lang Lang (who else) and No. 6 in a barnstorming rendition by Martha Argerich. Liszt’s dreamily poetic side is here too. There’s Daniel Barenboim playing the Liebestraum No. 3, Yundi Li giving a roiling account of the Liebeslied S. 566 and Wilhelm Kempff playing Il Penseroso from Annees de pelerinage.

If this collection whets your appetite for yet more Liszt, DG has also released a 34-CD box set of Liszt while Brilliant Classics has a 30-CD set.

Liszt: Wild and Crazy
Various Pianists
Deutsche Grammophon
Available at


More in:

Comments [6]

Well I hope this counts as their scheduled performance of this piece for the week. They usually play the Bolet recording (at least once a week as far as I can tell). This recording seems slower and more careful. I do wish they could find something else of Liszt's to play, but I guess it's just another example of the their lazy programming. Oh how I long for the old WQXR!

Jul. 08 2011 09:34 AM
Fred from USA

Hey Jorge,
You want to see a great modern Liszt interpreter who is a little wild and crazy and also gorgeous?
Try looking up Loa Astanova on YouTube.
You're welcome.

Jul. 07 2011 03:55 PM
Jorge Liebermann from Buenos Aires

The name of the collection is "Wild and Crazy".But where are the best Franz Liszt players of the last years and now:WILD (EARL) and VALENTINA LISITSA ?

Jul. 07 2011 03:24 PM

Since when did Deutsche Gramaphone make campy Dr. Seuss-like album covers like that one?

Jul. 06 2011 10:56 PM
Barry Owen Furrer

Speaking of "Wild and Crazy" Liszt, a recent release of virtuosic trombone playing on "Slide Partners - 100 Years Of American Trombone Virtuosity" features NY Philharmonic's Joseph Alessi and his "side partners" in a fabulous rendition of "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" for trombone quartet. This CD was years in the making and the vision of Stephen Dillon, owner of Dillon Music and Arthur Pryor researcher/scholar. The collaborative efforts between Mr. Dillon, Mr. Alessi, and all others who participated in bringing this to fruition are to be commended for making this "golden age" pyrotechnical and cantabile style of playing available for all to enjoy. Please check out and for more details.

Jul. 04 2011 08:13 AM
Michael Meltzer

I look forward to hearing Argerich's Hungarian Rhapsody # 6. The Horowitz has been the gold standard for that work, the one recording that convinces pianists everywhere to hold onto their day job.

Jul. 04 2011 01:34 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Follow WQXR 







About Albums of the Week

The Albums of the Week are compelling new recordings that we spotlight every week. These include creative repertoire choices, engaging musical personalities and artistic statements that stand out from the pack. You can hear the Albums of the Week throughout the day and evening on WQXR.