Liszt for Two
Georgia & Louise Mangos, duo-pianists
Cedille Records CDR 90000 052
Franz Liszt's most familiar works -- six of his Hungarian Rhapsodies -- are best known in their original solo piano versions and Liszt's orchestrations. Pianists Georgia & Louise Mangos, two "first-rate Lisztians" (Fanfare), perform Liszt's rarely heard duet versions (one piano, four-hands), possible the only CD ever of the duets. To those who sniff at piano transcriptions as "reductions," recording producer Jim Ginsburg points out that these Rhapsodies are actually "enlargements" of Liszt's original solo piano versions.
To round out the program, the Mangos sisters chose Liszt's Mephisto Waltz for Two Pianos, rather than Liszt's four-hand arrangement. The Mangos sisters felt the duo-piano version provided "a more glorious score, a more explosive presentation of the musical idea," making it a better companion for the Rhapsodies.
Rhapsody No. 1 (using the piano duet numbering) must have contained material Liszt deeply loved, for this fourteenth solo rhapsody became the first for orchestra and piano duet, and also formed the basis for his Hungarian Fantasia. No. 2 finds an intermingling of a serious mesto beginning, a wild gypsy central section, and an energetic march. The brilliant No. 3 contains four Hungarian popular songs of Liszt's time. The heroic No. 4 (the famous No. 2 in the solo and orchestral versions), with its attention-grabbing opening, is the most popular of the Rhapsodies. The introspective No. 5 recalls Chopin themes; many consider it a tribute to Chopin. No. 6, entitled "Carnival at Pest," is the most compositionally complex and provides "a test of any pair of pianists' abilities to get around the keyboard without hurting each other," Henry Fogel writes in the CD notes. For record collectors wanting to compare the duets to piano solo and orchestral performances, the Liszt for Two CD booklet contains a chart showing how the duet numbering corresponds to the other versions.
The Mephisto Waltz No. 1 is quintessential Liszt, treating the division between the beautiful and the diabolic. Based on an episode of the Faust legend, where the Devil interrupts a village wedding celebration to play a macabre tune on a violin, the piece is both menacing and sultry.
to download the CD booklet.