Placing a bet on Liszt

I plan on attending this weekend’s PSO concerts because of Schumann’s jovial and good-natured Third Symphony. The piece is full of energy and has some wonderful brass part-writing in the first movement, so keep an ear out. But what I love about going to concerts is encountering music I’m not familiar with—in this case, it’s Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

The fun of discovering something new, whether it’s a new piece, film, food—anything—has been endangered in an age that makes it easy to precisely meet your preferences. I could stay home and listen to a recording of Schumann’s third I’ve listened to a million times. Then, instead of Liszt’s second, which I perhaps wouldn’t have come to on my own, I could go onto his first concerto, which I know I like.

If I didn’t have a recording of the Liszt concertos, I could easily get my favorite pianist’s recording on Amazon, which is virtually guaranteed to have the CD, and probably an MP3 for instant download, too. It’s the same thing with movies—Netflix is going to have that obscure movie you want, and it’ll be in your mailbox in a day or so or maybe available for streaming online.

Gone are the days of going to a Borders or Blockbuster and not finding what you were looking for—if you do go there, you’ll find dark, empty buildings. Gone are the days of being forced to find an alternative. We are losing the art of browsing, of not getting what we want and being forced to take a chance on something unknown.

So, I am excited to take the PSO’s recommendation and take a listen to Liszt’s second piano concerto with the PSO and Jorge Federico Osorio. I’m sure the piece will be great—Liszt and the other great composers weren’t exactly turning out garbage between the masterpieces. And, the PSO is pretty savvy about programming music.

I have discovered a lot of great music and even composers by attending PSO concerts. Earlier this season, for instance, Honeck conducted some of Michael Gandolfi’s Garden of Cosmic Speculation. I loved the piece and have since got the Atlanta Symphony’s recording. So, if you’re not sure about a piece or composer, I encourage you to take a chance—you might like it.

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