The Art of Transcription, Part 1

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Franz Liszt (Franz Hanfstaengl/Wikimedia Commons)

Host David Dubal begins a four-part series, celebrating works that have been reimagined for the keyboard. From flute sonatas to opera arias and orchestral suites, great composers and musicians have fashioned their own piano transcriptions of pieces from every genre. 

There is a tradition of piano arrangements of symphonies, overtures, opera arias, and solo songs dating back to the 18th century. At a time when recorded music was not yet available and travel to concert halls was difficult, transcriptions allowed music to be enjoyed in private sitting rooms. Franz Liszt ushered in a new era with his virtuoso piano transcriptions — showpieces that added complex embellishments on the original works.

In this episode, we hear works such as Mendelssohn’s Scherzo from A Midsummer Night’s Dream as transcribed by Rachmaninoff, Verdi’s “Miserere” from Il Trovatore adapted by Liszt, and songs from Bernstein’s West Side Story fashioned by Leo Smit.   

Reflections from the Keyboard airs Thursdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 10 pm on WQXR.

Program Playlist:

Bach/Kempff: “Siciliano” from Sonata for Flute and Harpsichord in E-flat Major
Dinu Lipatti, piano

Verdi/Liszt: “Miserere” from Il Trovatore
Boris Bloch, piano

Mussorgsky/Horowitz: “By the Water”
Vladimir Horowitz, piano

Bernstein/Smit: “Jets,” “Jump,” and “Cha-Cha” from West Side Story
Cyprien Katsaris, piano

Mendelssohn/Liszt: “On Wings of Song”
Joseph Banowetz, piano

Wagner/Liszt: “Spinning Song” from Der Fliegende Holländer
Louis Kentner, piano

Gluck/Sgambati: Melody from Orfeo ed Euridice
Earl Wild, piano

Mendelssohn/Rachmaninoff: Scherzo from A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Benno Moiseiwitsch, piano

Gershwin/Wild: “Oh, Lady be Good”
Earl Wild, piano

Khachaturian/Solin: Sabre Dance from Gayane
Cyprien Katsaris, piano

Comments [3]

Tatyana from Brooklyn

Our beloved host David Dubal is elegant supreme and the best anyway.
All his programs are priceless! His manner, voice and the whole presentation is unforgettable! I was also surprised by Spinning Song announcement. I am glad that there are other listeners who are very attentive to the words as much as I am. Maybe he wanted to test how we listen and how much we know? He is amazing! Thanks, dear David!

Aug. 15 2016 03:53 PM
Paul from Brooklyn NY

I've never heard him make a mistake before. This was a real surprise.

Aug. 14 2016 10:44 PM
Peter O'Malley from Oakland, New Jersey

I love this show, and, David, I love your commentary, your sincerity, your love of this music. BUT: I have to point out an error that, to my disbelief, I heard in your commentary tonight. The Liszt transcription is of the "Spinning Song" from "Der Fliegende Hollander", not from "Tannhauser". But, other than that, I still love the show.

Aug. 11 2016 09:07 PM

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