STORIES FROM A BOOK OF LISZTS by John Spurling
3 CD s with readings by Jonathan Keeble and Jilly Bond and piano pieces by Liszt played by János Balácz
Released by Chrome Audio, 2011, www.chromemedia.co.uk
[Following] the bicentenary of Franz Liszt’s birth ... what fresher way to view the life of this extraordinary composer than with an extraordinary book?....Spurling is a fine, inventive writer with a gift for recreating a period voice. He certainly makes you understand why fans wore Liszt’s cigar stubs in lockets around their necks.
Anna Britten, Classic FM Magazine, October 2011, page 75
…an imaginative and highly original collection of 15 essays and stories, many crossing imaginative boundaries, all of them steeped in Lisztian atmospheres. It is like a personal Années de Pèlerinage: a cycle in sections enjoyable both individually and as a whole….Spurling’s writing is elegant and often humorous, and the variety of concepts proves invigorating… Highly recommended for anyone of musical and literary bent.
Jessica Duchen, BBC Music Magazine, October 2011
Elegantly conceived and flawlessly performed...Spurling applies a highly effective variety of literary styles to his episodic and semi-fictional account of a life that Liszt himself said was “more to be invented than written after the fact”. Each tale is laced with János Balázs’ stylish playing of music by Liszt, and the third CD is altogether given over to it, the perfect way of giving us time to appreciate - and chuckle at - Spurling’s ingenious sequence of literary variations on a theme.
Christina Hardyment, The Times, 19 Feb 2011
Fifteen dramatic moments comprise the original book, of which four humdingers are performed here, with exuberant panache, by Jonathan Keeble and Jilly Bond. It is highly entertaining and a glorious bonus is that one of the CDs is an uninterrupted concert of the maestro’s music, played by the young, astoundingly brilliant Hungarian pianist János Balázs: Liszt reborn.
Sue Gaisford, Independent on Sunday, 17 July, 2011
The works here are all wonderfully played...the faster pieces are taken at fast tempi and are explosively powerful...János Balász is also equally at home in the more reflective pieces... Overall, this is.an excellent set of discs with very interesting readings coupled with some excellent piano playing.
Jonathan Welsh, The Liszt Society Newsletter no. 104, Sept/Oct 2011
Both the book and the audio-book are available from Amazon