Piano Street Magazine

Cziffra Plays Liszt’s Gnomenreigen

September 17th, 2008 in Top Video Picks by | 1 comment

The great Philips compilation—Great Pianists of the 20th Century—includes two CD:s with György Cziffra (1921-1994). One contains works by Chopin, the other by Liszt.

Many of Cziffra’s recordings are controversial, and they are claimed by some to be showy and unmusical. Others regard these reactions as professional jealousy. In any case there is little doubt that Cziffra had a remarkable virtuoso technique, and was a master at improvisation.

His teachers at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest included Ferenczi and Dohnányi. He was the son of Hungarian Romas (his father, György Cziffra Sr., was a cimbalom player and played in cabaret halls and restaurants in Paris in the 1910’s).

Apart from his technical ease, the ”airy” cimbalom soundscape and pedal technique are very obvious in this rendition of Liszt´s Gnomenreigen.

Franz Liszt is renowned as a truly remarkable and versatile 19th century musical personality.
He used sacred subjects for many of his piano works. Examples include “À la Chapelle Sixtine,” based on melodies by Mozart and Allegri, as well as “Alleluja” and “Ave Maria d’Arcadelt”, and the two Legends “St. François d’Assise” and “St. François de Paule, marchant sur les flots”.
The two pieces “Illustrations de l’Africaine” on melodies by Meyerbeer are also to some extent in the sacred style, as is Liszt’s transcription of a scene from Verdi’s opera “Don Carlos”.

Liszt, of course, also composed works with profane themes, such as the Two Concert Etudes “Waldesrauschen” and “Gnomenreigen”.


  • Francisco says:

    This is truly remarkable playing. He handled this piece with such ease, he seems so relaxed! Incredible

  • Write a reply or comment

    Your email address will not be published.