Liszt: Piano Transcription of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9
One of the reasons Liszt transcribed for piano the works of Beethoven, Wagner, and others was so that those works could be heard by audiences who didn't normally have a chance to hear good orchestra or opera performances. Liszt knew how to capture the detail of the orchestral sound in his transcriptions. That detail isn't quite as obvious as one would like in Konstantin Scherbakov's performance of Liszt's transcription of Beethoven's "Symphony No. 9." The overall impression is that this is a large-scale piano work by Beethoven, like his late piano sonatas, not an orchestral work. Scherbakov does reasonably well with the difficult work, but what's needed is more voicing, that is, more careful separation of the lines of music, and more lyricism. Beethoven used elements of fugue in many places in this symphony. Scherbakov always brings out the subject in these mini-fugues, but as soon as any subsequent subject begins, the preceding lines are lost in a general accompaniment to the new subject. Because of this, it's hard to imagine Beethoven's original, for example, where he would have used horns for the melody as opposed to cellos. In the finale, there is also a need for more lyricism. It's not that Scherbakov is playing staccato, but more smoothness and connection between chords would make it easier to imagine the original vocal quartet. It also doesn't help that the sound is somewhat two-dimensional and lacking depth. Particularly compared to Leslie Howard's recording of the Beethoven symphony transcriptions, Scherbakov doesn't quite meet the demands of the work.