Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Alfred Cortot Plays Liszt

Cortot, writing in his splendid Study Edition (Salabert, Paris) of the Sonata in B minor (1853) suggests that the metamorphosis of the three themes wich constitute the prologue — not in B minor but in a very distant key — with witch the sonata begins and from witch Lizst constructed this masterpiece (wich is nominally in one movement) was dictated by the conflicting "states of soul" of Faust. The divinely inspired melody in B major (Andante sostenuto) wich introduces what is in effect the slow movement, and wich can be construed to represent Gretchen, is an entirely separate entity, not subjected to transformation of character or metamorphosis. Cortot plays this theme in an eloquent, profoundly touching, declamatory style. Granted there are technical flaws here and there in this performance of wich few of today's virtuosi would be found guiltry — but who amongst them can play the Grandioso theme with such awesome, controlled power ? In the coda, where above an ostinato bass (the "Mephisto" motive) slowly chords ascend — as it were, into the next and better world - Cortot is able to play the chord of an eleventh with a sixth in the middle, without arpeggiating it ; but he did have an unusually long fifth finger. The effect of solid chords is quite magical. Mention should also be made of Cortot's mysteriously atmospheric beginning of the sonata : the dots on the opening octave Gs he interprets as orchestral pizzicati unlike Horowitz who, with his aggressively short staccati, did not set the stage for a drama at all...
From the booklet, Guthrie Luke (a pupil of Cortot)

Alfred Cortot

Franz Liszt


1 Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178  25:47
1 Lento assai - Allegro energico - Grandioso - Cantando espressivo - Pesante - Recitativo -
2 Andante sostenuto - Quasi adagio - 3 Allegro energico - Più mosso - Cantando
espressivo senza slentare - Stretta quasi presto - Presto - Prestissimo -
4 Andante sostenuto - Allegro moderato - Lento assai

2 Au bord d'une source (II & III), for piano (Années I/4), S. 160 n° 4 & S. 160 n° 4bis  3:02
3 La Leggierezza (Grandes études de concert, n° 2 in F minor) , S. 144, n° 2  3:59
4 La Leggierezza (Grandes Etudes de concert
, n° 2 in F minor) , S. 144, n° 2  4:24
5 St François de Paule marchant sur les flots (Légendes
, n° 2), S. 175, n° 2  7:34
6 Hungarian Rhapsody n° 2 in C-sharp minor  9:23
7 Hungarian Rhapsody n° 11 in A minor, S. 244  4:10
8 Hungarian Rhapsody n° 11 in A minor, S. 244 [# 2]  5:33
Spring (Wiosna), Chants Polonais, n° 2 (after Chopin Op. 74, n° 2), S. 480  2:27
The Ring, Chants Polonais, n° 14 (after Chopin Op. 74, n° 14), S. 480   2:04
11 Rigoletto. Paraphrase de concert (after Verdi), S. 434  6:30


Alfred Cortot - p

Recorded at Small Queen's Hall, London ; March 13, 1929 [# 1] ; Camden, New Jersey, USA ; January 2, 1923 [# 2] ; February 27, 1923 [# 3] ; & March 21, 1925 [# 7] ; Studio C, Small Queen's Hall, London ; May 21 [or 13 ?], 1930 [# 4] ; Studio N° 3, Abbey Road, London ; May 19, 1937 [# 5] ; & March 10, 1939 [# 9 & 10] ; & New York ; December 27 [# 8], & 27/28 [# 6 & 11], 1926


woland said...

One of his greatest discs.
Many thanks

аффтор said...

dear Melanchthon,
your taste in both classical & jazz music is peerless and matching in many points with mine.
this share is really great:
great musician rendering great oeuvres of the great composer.
thanks a lot!

roYbluE said...


La Danse de Puck said...

Thank you, Melanchton, for more of the "poet" of the piano....Many thanks!

proditneg said...

Thanks for this..

Leopold said...

Cortot is a master. Thank you.

Melanchthon said...

musician3 said...

AMAZING...........................THANK YOU FOR ALL

Pedro del Castillo Alonso said...

Thank you very much Mel!

Olde Edo said...

As a big fan of Cortot, I bought this record and all the other Cortot from Pearl, but like many Pearl CDs, it is suffering from "digital rot", variously attributed to the dye used to produce a golden tint, or to interaction between the plastic surface on the data side of the CD with some chemical in the booklet paper. In any case, it is wonderful to once again listen to this collection of Cortot's Liszt performances, particularly the early ones when his technique was as transcendental as his imagination. Thanks very much!