|No. 200 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast200|
This week’s Friday Blog and Podcast is a significant milestone – it is our 200th podcast in a series we began on April 1st, 2011. I like to think that’s special… And with every special occasion, we offer a little something extra – here, we throw caution to the wind, and bring you nearly one hour and 3/4 of piano music.
Where to begin? Well, I remember it as if it were yesterday – my first paycheque as a “working man”. I was working and living in a small town about 1 hour South-West of Montreal and on that day, I went to the local mall and walked into the record store, purchasing some CDs. In fact, in 1987 when all of this took place, my music collection only had one, maybe two CDs, as I’d only just purchased a CD player. One of the CDs I purchased on that day was by Montreal-born pianist Louis Lortie.
Lortie began to study piano at age seven, working successively with Nicole Pontbriand-Beaudoin, and Sister Simone Martin at the École de musique Wilfrid-Pelletier and Yvonne Hubert at the École normale de musique. He gained recognition at the Canadian Music Competitions for five successive years (1968-72), at the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Concours in 1972, making his debut with the orchestra at the age of thirteen and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra three years later. Soon after he performed an historic tour of the People’s Republic of China and Japan with the TS.
He won First Prize in the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition in 1984 and came in fourth - at the Leeds Competition that same year.
As a recording artist, Lortie has well-over 30 albums to his credit, most of them with the Chandos record label – music of Chopin, Beethoven, Ravel and Liszt are most noteworthy in his catalog. On that shopping visit of the Summer of 1987, I purchased his recording of Liszt Sonata in B Minor from 1986. Today’s podcast provides the recording in its entirety, along with the filer material, his Three Concert Studies.
Liszt’s monumental Sonata in B Minor was completed in 1853 and published in 1854 with a dedication to Robert Schumann. Scholars describe it as one of the greatest keyboard works of the nineteenth century, receiving a lot of analytical attention, particularly regarding its musical form.
The rest of the podcast is taken from a later Lortie/Chandos release of Liszt’s Années de Pélerinage, which earned him a Canadian Juno Award for “Best Classical Album (Solo or Chamber Ensemble)” in 1992. Of the three years of Pilgrimage, I chose the Second year (Italy, in its original form, without the Venezia e Napoli supplement) composed between 1837 and 1849 and published in 1858. No. 7 of the suite is well-known and often performed as a stand-alone piece: Après une Lecture du Dante (also known as the “Dante Sonata”), a piano sonata in one movement, completed by Liszt in 1849. This work of program music was inspired by the reading of Dante Alighieri's most famous epic poem, the Divine Comedy.
I think you will love this music too!