LOUIS KENTNER (1905-1987)
Hungarian-British pianist

Louis Kentner (Lajos Kentner) was born in what was then Austrian, now the Czech Republic, of Hungarian parents. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest under Arnold Székely (piano), Hans Koessler and Zoltán Kodály (composition), and Leo Weiner (chamber music).

He emigrated to England in 1935 where his radio broadcasts included the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven and Schubert, the complete Well-Tempered Clavier of Bach, and the complete Années de Pèlerinage of Liszt.  Bartók chose him to be the soloist at the Hungarian premiere of the composer's second piano concerto under Otto Klemperer. Bartók also chose him for the first European performance of the third concerto under Sir Adrian Boult.

He was a composer as well with orchestral and chamber music, piano pieces and songs to his credit.

Louis Kentner was one of the greatest interpreters of the piano music of Liszt. He is lamentably little known today, but when I was a student he was known to be one of the grand masters and his records were still readily available. For those who were brought up on his supreme musicality, a musicality supported by unparalleled virtuosity, the parade of pianists each trying to play Liszt louder and faster than anyone else, are an offense to the ears.

We have all heard fingers of steel flying over the most difficult of Liszt's transcriptions and paraphrases, but to hear Louis Kentner play the Valse à capriccio after Donizetti is to hear a performance in which every one of those notes has a reason for being, a performance which places Liszt on a musical pedestal high above the myriad traveling virtuosi of his time.

On another page, Kentner plays Chopin, Beethoven and others.

Liszt Sonata in B minor

recorded in the 1930s

Liszt  Ballade 2 in B minor, S 171

recorded in 1938

recorded ca1969

Liszt  Polonaise 1 in C minor

recorded in 1940

Liszt  Berceuse, S 174 (Second version)

recorded in 1941

Liszt  Scherzo and March, S 177

recorded in 1940

Part I

Part II

Liszt  Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S 154

Liszt 3 "Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude"
from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S 173

recorded in 1938

Liszt  "Csárdás Macabre"

recorded in 1951

Liszt   from Grandes Études de Paganini, S 141

recorded in 1946

Andante capriccioso in E-flat major (rec. 1942)

3 Allegretto in G minor "La Campanella" (rec. 1946)

5 Allegretto in E major "La Chasse"
(a comparison in which I much prefer Kentner with Petri in second place)

Egon Petri
03:05Louis Kentner
06:08Rosalyn Tureck
08:49Emil Gilels
11:21Earl Wild

Liszt   Trois Études de concert, S 144

recorded live in 1985

1 Il Lamento

2 La leggierezza

3 Un Sospiro

Liszt  Two Concert Études, S 145

1 Waldesrauschen (rec. 1939)
04:242 Gnomenreigen (rec. 1941)

2 Gnomenreigen (1972 video)

Liszt   from 12 Transcendental Etudes, S 139

recorded in the late 1950s

1 Preludio in C major
2 Molto vivace in A minor

4 Mazeppa in D minor

5 Feux Follets in B major
04:008 Wlide Jagd in C minor

7 Eroica in E major

9 Ricordanza in A major


10 Allegro agitato molto in F minor
(a comparison in which my preference is Kentner by a mile with Bolet, who plays it beautifully but not at all allegro agitato molto, a distant second)

Louis Kentner
04:39Gunnar Johansen
08:49Jorge Bolet
13:57Earl Wild

11 Harmonies du Soir in D major

12 Chasse-Neige in B♭ minor

Liszt  "Au bord d'une source"
from "Années de Pèlerinage: Première Année - Suisse"

recorded in 1937

Liszt  "Après une lecture de Dante: Fantasia Quasi Sonata"
from "Années de pèlerinage, Deuxième année: Italie"

This version for piano and orchestra was created for a Frederick Ashton ballet by Constant Lambert who conducts the Sadler's Wells Orchestra in this 1940 recording

Liszt  "Venezia e Napoli"
from Annees de pelerinage, 2nd year, Italy supplement

I Gondoliera
05:46III Tarantella

recorded in 1938

Liszt  Hungarian Rhapsodies, S 244

in C minor (rec 1937)

9 in E major "Pesther Carnaval"

10 in E major "Preludio"

15 in A minor "Rákóczi-Marsch"

18 in F minor "Ungarischen Ausstellung in Budapest" (rec. ca1969)

Liszt  Rhapsody on Hungarian Songs

Liszt  5 Hungarian Folksongs, S 245

Liszt  "Valse à capriccio sur deux motifs de Lucia et Parisina de Donizetti"

Liszt  "Valse de l'opéra Faust de Charles Gounod", S 407

recorded in the early 1960s

Liszt  Les Patineurs (Illustration 2 from Meyerbeer's Le Prophète)

recorded in 1939

Liszt  Reminiscences de Don Juan (after Mozart), S418

Liszt-Wagner Spinning Song from "The Flying Dutchman", S 440

For those of you who enjoy murder mysteries, here is my first with a strong musical polemic as background

Murder in the House of the Muse

which is also available as an audiobook.

And this is the more recently published second mystery in the series:

Murder Follows the Muse

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