Nike Wagner admits to her famous family's disdain for their famous ancestor Franz Liszt
Glossy German newsmagazine Der Spiegel has published an interview with Nike Wagner, one of Richard Wagner's great-granddaughters, and one of the many family members who, at one time or another, has vied to head the Bayreuth Festival.
Among the many things that get touched upon in the interview, which includes candour about the family's closeness with Hitler (they wouldn't go to be on New year's eve until the Fuehrer had called with his wishes), is an admission that Richard Wagner didn't think much of his father-in-law, disdaining his music as well as his showmanship.
For anyone curious about the personal side of the music world, the article is worth a read in translation here.
Because this is the 200th anniversary year of Franz Liszt's birth, I've been hearing far more of his B Minor Piano Sonata than I would care to. It's a wonderful piece that is about far more than mere show, but Liszt left stacks and stacks of music that we are not hearing.
But there's a reason that the Sonata is on everyone's fingers. And I don't think that, among this year's recordings or concerts, I've heard as cleanly laid-out an interpretation as from Haiou Zhang, a young Chinese pianist of Lang Lang's vintage who left the Beijing Central Conservatory for northern Germany rather than the United States.
Zhang's career has been thriving in Europe. We've had three tastes of him in Toronto thanks for the enthusiastic support of conductor Kerry Stratton. And his new Liszt album is well worth checking out. There are four other pieces on it, besides the Sonata, providing an overview of Liszt's styles and proclivities.
You'll find the details here.
Also, Zhang returns to Ontario on May 2, 2012, for a recital at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts.
Rather than some Liszt, here is Zhang in a live performance Venetian Boat Song from Felix Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words in Spandau last November (Mendelssohn was only two years older than Liszt -- and his music was the object of Richard Wagner's multiple anti-Semitic tirades):