Liszt Piano arrangements of Schubert songs
D138, 191, 328, 550, 795/19, 871, 889, 911/5, 957/13, 965a. John Bingham
The best lied translations are those made by Liszt into his own native language of keyboard virtuosity. His selection and treatment of suitable songs typically combine the pious with the popular on the grandest possible scale, like a Cup Final crowd singing Abide With Me. The noble and sentimental melodies are introduced and conducted with a tremendous swing, but usually at a much slower tempo than the original, as if they were being intoned or declaimed rather than sung. In the space thus created, attention is centred on theatrical effects. On this record, for example, Der Müller und der Bach is graced with a choir of sobbing angels;Der Lindenbaum houses a brood of trilling nightingales;Die Taubenpost is burnished to a high iridescence;Die Forelle is a rainbow trout crossed with a flying fish; and so on. These transcriptions may be taken, according to personal taste, as new insights, acts of homage, virtuoso displays or camped-up travesties; by turns revealing, moving, impressive and ridiculous. But John Bingham's musicianship infallibly brings out the brightest and most pleasing aspects, in this delectable début.
The Musical Times, Dec. 1976 (p. 1005) © the estate of eric sams