LISZT: Works for Piano and Orchestra, Volume 1:
Wandererfantasie S366, Fantasia on a theme from Beethoven's 'Ruins of
Athens' S122, Polonaise brillante S367, Grande fantasie symphonique on themes
from Berlioz's 'Lelio' S120.
Louis Lortie: piano, Residentie
Orchestra The Hague, George Pehlivanian
Chandos CHAN9801 66m
This disc comes into direct competition with Hyperion's lavish Liszt Edition
volumes featuring Leslie Howard and Karl Anton Rickenbacker. Since it is
labelled Volume 1, I assume that we should have the whole output on Chandos
before too long. Lortie is a stunning pianist and if he does not match the
Lisztian know-how of Howard, his playing is still fascinating and technically
quite beyond reproach. Schubert's classic 'Wanderer' fantasy really comes
alive in this concerto-like arrangement, a demonstration of Liszt's skilful
orchestral technique. There is also much charm and hilariousness in the Beethoven
Ruins of Athens Variations, the Turkish March is really turned around here.
Weber's Polonaise Brillante comes alive in a marvelous interpretation by
Lortie whilst the epic 'Lelio' Fantasia is an appointment with Berliozian
devilry and pure unfettled inspiration. This work leaves Lortie a bit short
charged compared to the superb Howard recording which I must deem first choice
if forced to choose between the two. George Pehlivanian and the Residentie
Orchestra from The Hague provide adequate accompaniment although they must
yield to Rickenbacker's Hungarian players for authenticity and just that
more in character.
I warmly welcome this superbly recorded disc to the stable of Lisztian recordings
and have no hesitation in recommending it alongside the authorative Hyperion
version. True Lisztians will definitely want both recordings now that Kurt
Masur and Michel Beroff's superb EMI set has fallen under that dreaded deletion
axe! I still rate that late 70's analogue recording as the best available
if we had a perfect world of constant availability.