Liszt wrote fifteen Hungarian rhapsodies, all of them originally for piano solo, but many of them have been scored for orchestra. Of all these the second is by far the most popular and the most frequently heard in the concert room and is therefore selected for description. Its orchestral version was made by Herr Muller-Berghaus, though another version was also made by the composer, assisted by Franz Doppler. The two principal movements are the Lassan, or slow movement, and the Friska, or quick movement, of the conventional Hungarian Czardas, the national dance. The Lassan begins in the clarinets, violins and violas in unison, accompanied by chords in the horns, trombones and basses and is very earnest and resolute in character. A slow and mournful passage follows in the same instruments with a similar accompaniment, the theme of which, after a clarinet Cadenza, appears in the flutes and oboes...
I actually prefer to put Lang Lang here (yesterday my parents laughed when they heard his name since the talented pianist name means abnormal in our language geesh) but the sound quality is poor. I decided to place Rachmaninoff instead - one legend playing another legend's work!
Note: Liszt suffered from critics (like Rachmaninoff) and they dismissed his works but in the end nobody remembered those people. It is Liszt.
Henceforth, some critics condemned him from the very beginning - a dark cloud that hung over him for a lifetime. Yet, it's interesting how some of these intellects couldn't comprehend the complexity of his serious pieces, or they dismissed his works on the grounds that no single person could be both a star performer and a great composer. Liszt couldn't win with these mental midgets. In general they loved his performances and technique, but despised his compositions. It's amazing how the pen of one single-minded critic can wield devastating control over public opinion.
Even today many people will forfeit seeing a movie based upon a critic's review. Many times this can destroy box office sales and plummet a film into obscurity. Yet with time and a lack of bias, it may secure a revival via the video rental market. Many excellent films have risen from the ashes this way, and so too has Liszt... risen like a phoenix. This phenomenon can be succinctly witnessed in a personal letter that Liszt wrote in 1875, "For people now-a-days hear and judge only by reading the newspapers. I mean to take advantage of this in so far that the leading and favorite papers of Vienna, Pest, Leipzig, Berlin, Paris, London, etc.--which abhor my humble compositions and have declared them worthless and objectionable--shall be relieved of all further outward trouble concerning them. What is the good of performances to people who only care to read newspapers?"
It is also curious that Franz Liszt had many parallels to Leonardo DaVinci. The old Italian master was of the highest order in the arena of diverse invention and so too was Liszt. DaVinci experimented in science and the arts developing new techniques and visions never seen before by man, while Liszt too created soundscapes so unique and bewildering to his contemporaries that even the great Hans Von Bulow could not fathom how to conduct a work like Hamlet. These bizarre configurations seemed unmusical and alien to 19th Century ears, and rightfully so, they were prophetically modern.
Granted both men did experience the pitfalls associated with experimentation, as can be witnessed by the deterioration of DaVinci's Last Supper or the stylistic fluctuations in Liszt's Christus Oratorio. Yet, both pieces are masterworks of the highest order, as they both broke ground in countless ways and move us with their profound vision. As for their seemingly precarious methodology it's key to remember, only by abandoning the norms and plodding into the deep, dark abyss of the unknown can one engender and reveal the nebulous wonders that lay hidden to lesser beings.
Franz Liszt has always been assured a lofty place in the Pantheon of Composers, yet on that celestial horizon of stars only a select few burn with fervid intensity... Liszt is one of them.
Hurray for the innovators - immortality is their prize!