If you have been following the Touch Press output along with us, you won’t be surprised to learn that they have recently released another exploration of a musical masterpiece. In addition to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and The Orchestra their list now includes the Liszt Sonata in B Minor. While in-depth, these apps aren’t only for serious students of music; anyone interested in learning more about the art is sure to gain a meaningful appreciation.
As when eating a rich dessert, it’s best to remember to start with small bites of the Liszt Sonata in B Minor (Touch Press;$13.99; Gr 9 Up), a deep and satisfying examination of a powerful piece of music. Viewers can begin by watching British pianist Stephen Hough’s brilliant execution of the piece, or spend time poring over the structural analysis of the work.
To watch Hough is thoroughly engaging. With the performance there is a choice of four views: face, profile, and two overhead options. Overhead, viewers can watch the pianist’s fingers as they touch the piano keys or add an LED representation of what each hand is covering. There is also the option to view the written composition in real time and listen to the accompanying critical commentary.
Reading both the introduction and biography sections will give those unfamiliar with Franz Liszt and his music a working knowledge of the musician and the piece. Covering interesting tidbits from Liszt’s life as a virtuoso, a Don Juan, a composer, and a touring machine, the two sections explain how he transformed music and concert programming during his lifetime. His relationships with his teachers, his family, and his peers are particularly interesting, and the description of his reception as a child prodigy by Ludwig Van Beethoven and the pat on the head he received from the composer is likely one readers won’t forget. Videos of Hough discussing Liszt and his composition are also available.
Liszt was sometimes criticized that he put too much into his compositions; his clanging on keys was a bombardment to the ears. Touch Press takes the Liszt approach to content: more is more. The structural analysis and history of the sonata form alone will keep students and those interested in music absorbed for hours. Portions of the piece are explained, performed, and critiqued, and the approach is always exciting. A solid purchase.—Pamela Schembri, Newburgh Enlarged City Schools, Newburgh, NY
For other app reviews, visit the Touch and Go webpage.