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Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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http://www.lisztdigital.com

Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Via Crucis (The 14 stations of the cross) S. 53 (Latin & German sacred texts selected by C. Sayn-Wittgenstein) (1879) (43.12)
Ave Verum Corpus, S. 44 (text: Pope Innocent VI) (1871) (2.56)
Le crucifix, S. 342 version 3 (text: V. Hugo) (1884) (4.42)
Die Seligkeiten (The Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-10), S. 25 (1859) (9.32)
John Reschl, baritone. JoAnn Stump, mezzo-soprano
Mary Kay Kapustka, piano. Francis Slechta, organ
Church of the Holy Ghost Choir/Richard Robertson
Notes in English. Texts translated into English, except for S. 53.
Recorded at Church of the Holy Ghost, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A., February 2002
LISZT DIGITAL LD003 [60.47]

A capable recording of the Via Crucis is always good news. The all-time great recording was also one of the first, with the BBC Northern Singers conducted by Gordon Thorne, Francis Jackson, organ, on a 1961 SAGA LP XID 5079, many years out of print. That recording was literally terrifying in the intensity of the drama. This new recording benefits greatly from the digital sound, is more reverent and less ferocious, but still an intensely heartfelt document. The piano accompaniment is vivid, solid, and passionately played, every bit as effective as the more usual organ. The solo voices show emotional commitment but sing clearly and with musicianship. The ear accepts the little bit of strain in the baritone’s high notes and the bit of wobble in the mezzo as entirely in keeping with the passion of their declamation. The recording venue acoustic is sufficient to convey a religious atmosphere and surround the performers with a soft halo but leave every musical detail clear and unblurred. This is a very welcome addition to the Liszt discography.

When Liszt published his great oratorio Christus (S. 3) in 1872 he incorporated Die Seligkeiten into it as section 6, the first number in Part II; but here, heard by itself, it is quite effective. Here John Reschl sings the baritone solos with great reverence and commitment. The brief Ave Verum Corpus was excerpted from his Missa Solennis (S. 9) in 1871 for separate performance. Le Crucifix (S. 342/3) is a solo song, presented here with great passion by mezzo Stump, one of many Liszt settings of poems by Victor Hugo. It is not included in the general roster of the songs probably because the autograph cannot be found, and the three known versions differ slightly.

Paul Shoemaker



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