This week, Reflections from the Keyboard pays tribute to Richard Wagner with piano transcriptions of some of Wagner’s work written by Liszt, Busoni, Gould and more. We’ll see if you like your Wagner piano-ised instead of vocalized and orchestrated.
By 15, Wagner had barely any skill at piano playing and knew nothing of any compositional rule. He enrolled in the University of Leipzig and received some composition lessons, yet left after about six months feeling bored while proclaiming he knew nothing about music. The program begins with an early Wagner work, an original for two hands which dates to about 1831, shortly after these lessons. It’s a polonaise for four hands in D Major. Coming across as a very conventional piece, it gives no indication of the future genius Wagner developed into.
Other transcriptions on the program include one by Liszt of "The Spinning Song" from Wagner’s first truly mature opera, The Flying Dutchman, as well as his "Liebestod," also arranged by Liszt and performed by Vladimir Horowitz. Also featured is an arrangement of the beautiful "Träume," composed by a once well-known Liszt student, August Stradel. Glenn Gould’s own arrangement of the Prelude from Die Meistersinger is featured. And of course, Louis Brassin’s very clever transcription of "Ride of the Valkyries" closes out the episode.
Richard Wagner: Polonaise for Four Hands in D Major
— Pier Paolo Vincenzi, piano.
Richard Wagner (Arr. Franz Liszt): "Spinning Song" from The Flying Dutchman
— Louis Kentner, piano.
Richard Wagner (Arr. Morton Gould): Die Meistersinger Prelude
— Morton Gould, piano.
Richard Wagner (Arr. August Stradel): "Träume"
— Juan Guillermo Vizcarra
Richard Wagner (Arr. Franz Liszt): "Isolde's Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
— Vladmir Horowitz, piano.
Richard Wagner (Arr. Ferruccio Busoni): "Trauermarsch" from Götterdämmerung
— Cyrprien Katsaris, piano.
Richard Wagner (Arr. Louis Brassin): "The Ride of the Valkyries" from Die Walküre
— Chitose Okashiro, piano.