Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Works for Piano and Orchestra, Volume 2:
De profundis, op. 668, S691
Malédiction, op. 452, S452
Fantasia on Hungarian Folk tunes, op. 458, S123
Totentanz, op. 457, S126

Louis Lortie, piano.
The Hague Residentie Orchestra/ George Pehlivanian
Recorded, The Hague, July 1999
CHANDOS CHAN 9864 [79.39]
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The longest and least known piece here is De profundis which was written when Liszt was in his twenties but never completed (only the ending and indications of temp etc. were missing). The version here is by Jay Rosenblatt which was written at the end of the least century. It is a vast one-movement sonata which lasts over 33 minutes. It is played here with verve and is very enjoyable.

Malédiction (under a curse), for piano and strings, is another early work, in although shorter, resembles De profundis in tone. Here again it is played well and the Hague orchestra under Pehlivanian accompanies well.

The Hungarian Fantasia is a well known work-horse which used to be very popular. It is based on Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodie No. 14 and whilst not the most subtle of pieces with overbearing brass parts typical of Liszt at his most bombastic. To be effective, both piano and orchestra need to go all out. Such pianists as Jorge Bolet, György Cziffra and Shura Cherkassky have recorded more exciting versions; likewise here the orchestral part sounds rather reticent.

Totentanz (dance of death) is a set of variations based upon the famous medieval chant 'Dies irae' and is one of Liszt's most impressive works. Although well played here, it lacks the ultimate degree of menace which the piece can convey. Jorge Bolet with the London Symphony Orchestra/Ivan Fisher, has recorded a superb performance of this exciting piece.

The recorded sound is clear but lacks impact especially in the orchestral climaxes. The presentation is effective, with serviceable notes by Jeremy Siepmann. Overall this CD is an interesting one, with refined playing, and is at its best in the two early works.

Arthur Baker.

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