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Rinaldo Zhok: Liszt - Verdi
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Rinaldo Zhok: Liszt - Verdi

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Rinaldo Zhok: Liszt-Verdi
(Artist Page)

Rinaldo Zhok on Piano

Liszt piano transcriptions of Verdi operas:
Don Carlo - I lombardi alla prima crociata
Rigoletto - Ernani (1st version)
Il Trovatore - Ernani (2nd version)
Simon Boccanegra - Aida

Press: Odradek Records:

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 18, 2019

This CD is a detailed study of Franz Liszt’s own piano transcriptions of a selection, above, of Giuseppe Verdi’s operas. Piano transcriptions in the 19th century allowed local, intimate recitals of renowned opera music. Audiences could revisit or learn about popular arias and orchestral overtures and accompaniment. Franz Liszt’s precise transcriptions are noted in the album notes as akin to “the gramophone recordings of the 19th century”. However, Liszt’s paraphrases, which might musically synthesize and freely embellish dramatic tone, tempo, and intensity, have also been praised, with selected paraphrases included in this album. Verdi and Liszt, almost the same age, are said to have probably not been introduced. Verdi wrote a couple of piano works, and Liszt wrote one opera.

Notable tracks:

All pieces composed by Verdi and transcribed or paraphrased by Liszt.

#1 – Don Carlo (Coro di festa e Marcia funebre) – This is a mesmerizing track, with introspective, respectful tonal motifs, followed by the funereal, driven rhythms, with pulsating chords and solemnity. Sparkling, rapid treble phrases shift to regal, formal pageantry, very operatic.

#4 – Ernani (paraphrase de concert), 1st version - Fascinating to experience was the comparison of Liszt’s two paraphrases of the exact same passage from Verdi’s Ernani. The first is more cautious, whispery, precise, reverent, deliberate, and predictable, like an early draft of a poem. It has a balletic quality, like an ingenue pas de deux. See below for the 2nd version, track #6.

#6 – Ernani (paraphrase de concert), 2nd version – This second paraphrase of the same passage from Verdi’s Ernani is melodramatic, sweeping, virtuosic, compelling, gripping, animated, and fiery. This music, too, is balletic, of a theatrically driven pas de deux, with conflicted passion.

#8 – Aida (Danza sacra e Duetto finale) – This is also a Liszt paraphrase, of the finale of Aida, a dance and duet. Exoticism and poignancy, mystery and quietude, are followed by expansive emotionality and melodic momentum. I look forward to following Liszt’s paraphrases and transcriptions into the opera house.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at