This is the second volume in our historic collection of Liszt’s own two-piano versions of his 12 symphonic poems from the Weimar period (1848-61). The 3-album series comprises the first complete recording of these works, most of which had disappeared from the repertoire by the turn of the century.
In the CD booklet, prize-winning author Alan Walker argues that the duo-piano versions are as original, as close to the underlying musical concept, as the orchestral arrangements and "quite capable of leading an independent life." He summons Busoni for expert testimony: "Notation itself is the transcription of an abstract idea ... From this first transcription to the second is a short and comparatively unimportant step. Yet, in general, people only make a fuss about the second." Moreover, Liszt himself regarded the two-piano versions of the symphonic poems as independent concert pieces.
The Mangos sisters have been performing the Liszt in concert with gratifying results. "These works really have the ability to ignite an audience," Louise Mangos says. "It’s unusual to get a robust, standing ovation for music that hasn’t been heard in 125 years. But audiences respond to these works as if they were familiar favorites." The Chicago-area concert pianists and music professors discovered the scores, which have never been published in modern versions, while scouting for duo-piano repertoire in European libraries, collections, and music shops.
When Volume I was released in 1993, the Chicago Sun-Times called the piano version "more compelling than the orchestral ones." American Record Guide agreed, saying the Mangos sisters "make a good case" for the music.
The sisters seem telepathically in sync with each other at the keyboards - Audio magazine noted their "absolutely perfect coordination." Their musical kinship reflects their close personal relationship. Both were born in St. Charles, Illinois (four years apart), and have been performing together since 1981. They graduated from the New England Conservatory and studied with Paul Badura-Skoda and Joerg Demus at Munich’s Hochschule for Musik, as well as with Earl Wild at the University of Ohio. When not concertizing in the US, Canada, and Europe or scouting for forgotten piano scores, they teach applied piano and chamber music at Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois. The second generation Greek-American sister - each is married to a Greek-American architect -live about a block apart.