Friday, November 12, 2010

Rarest Recording Ever?

What would be the most rare sound recording? Thomas Edison's trial effort back when he invented the cylinder recorder by reciting "Mary had a little Lamb"? What about the oldest surviving cylinder of the "The Lost Chord", music of Arthur Sullivan from 1888 or Johannes Brahms' greeting to Edison recorded a few years later? The most mythic of these first documents is the alleged recordings of Franz Liszt playing the piano. Such a cylinder would hold 2 minutes of scratchy, wobbling sound that would give us no real idea have how the greatest pianist of the 19th century did his work.

There is a new CD set out of Austin put together by Ken Caswell on the Pierian label that gets us the closest to having a time machine to visit Liszt in the 1880's. Ken has a Welte Mignon Player Piano and this plays the most accurately recorded rolls from the first third of the 20th century. On "Liszt's Students play Liszt" there are several performances that have the sub-title "as I remembered Liszt playing". To hear these is to get us as close as we can get to experience of hearing the  great Liszt play.

Tune in to the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

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