For the ultra-religious Franz Liszt, nothing could have felt more real than Dante’s depiction of heaven and hell in The Divine Comedy. For years, Liszt considered writing a musical response to Dante’s image of a journey through hell, purgatory to eventual bliss.

Alexandre Kantorow ©Southbank Centre

Eventually, his Aprés une lecture du Dante materialised – a marriage of virtuosity to religiosity that pushes a single musical theme through the gates of hell into the fires of damnation and, eventually, into the radiant arms of paradise.

Having opened with Liszt’s fervent response to Dante, the prize-winning pianist Kantorow closes with Robert Schumann’s all-too-human profession of love for his wife Clara. Schumann’s monumental First Piano Sonata tumbles headily through a series of emotional states from the buzzing to the explosive, the playful to the thankful. The completely love-struck composer described the piece to Clara as ‘a solitary outcry for you from my heart.’

Performers: Alexandre Kantorow piano
Repertoire
  • Liszt: Après une lecture de Dante – Fantasia quasi sonata from Années de pèlerinage
  • Bach: Chaconne from Partita No.2 in D minor, BWV.1004 arr. Brahms for piano left hand
  • Interval
  • Scriabin: Vers la flamme (Poème), Op.72
  • Schumann: Sonata No.1 in F sharp minor, Op.11