not queued up to tackle this disc. It smacks of an earlier
age when enthusiasts – usually male – wanted to show off the
capabilities of their hi-fi set-up. We are talking here LPs
and turntables. As for the classical repertoire the works
of choice would be Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture with
Beethoven’s Wellington’s Victory coming a poor second.
I am sure there
are dissertations written already and yet to be written about
battlefield music. Albert Petrak’s notes make a good start.
It is interesting though that the Beethoven and the Tchaikovsky
works, appropriated as gaudy audio showcases, commemorate
the same battle. Tchaikovsky had the decency to offer choirs
and bells as well as cannon-shot. No wonder there are far
more recordings of 1812 than of Wellington's Victory.
That said, the record industry, often slow at recognising
a glut, have stemmed new productions over the last twenty
years. A moratorium was long overdue.
Victory symphony is an interesting partner to the the
same composer’s Eroica, the latter written to extol
the glorious Napoleon and then recanted while the former,
shallower work, was written as a celebratory extravaganza.
The present recording was made using the rattle of authentic
musketry and the crump of a twelve pound cannon from the North-South
Skirmish Association. Authentic it may be but presumably the
Association had to discard their usual Civil War weaponry
and track back half a century to use the sort of muskets and
cannon that were deployed at Waterloo.
are full exploited and similarly with the orchestra. Rabble-rouser
that it is, it makes use of God Save the King and Malbrouk
to represent the British and the French but why is it
that the Prussian Blucher does not get a look-in? Still the
results here are spectacularly clear and the performance is
extremely musical so all praise to Cincinnati and Kunzel.
The Liszt Hunnenschlacht
is a wild romp and sometimes a bit of a brawl but Kunzel
does an excellent job of preventing the whole thing turning
into a gabble. The downside is that it is a bit tame for a
fully faithful portrayal of the subject as reflected in Wilhelm
von Kaulbach’s fresco of the same name. Actually he brings
out the musical threads of this work far more adeptly than
Haitink and Mehta in their Philips and Decca recordings respectively.
Kunzel is the antithesis of Golovanov whose mono Melodiya
cycle of the Liszt poems will appeal to tolerant-eared music-lovers
who value the elemental force that the Russian conductor finds
or infuses into these scores. At its peak (13:10) there is
grandeur and even bombast aplenty. As for the Hungarian
March to the Assault this is a fun work written originally
for piano in 1843. Liszt orchestrated it in 1875. Is that
a zither I hear amid the conflict?
Just to be clear,
the musketry appears only in the Beethoven. I should also
add that the gunshots were recorded separately and mixed in
as part of the Soundstream digital process.
disc is very short value at only
just over 35 minutes so you will
need to want the Beethoven
– though you’re not spoiled for
choice – or be a passionate Liszt
completist. Just as well this is
a further example of Telarc dropping
the price of premium CDs sitting
on their warehouse shelving. If
the idea appeals now is the time