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Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Invocation, from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses (1847) [2:57]
Hymne à la nuit, from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S.173a/1(1847) [6:39]
Wiegenlied (Chant du berceau), S.198 (1881) [3:59]
Schlaflos! Frage und Antwort, S.203 (1883) [2:37]
Grosses Konzertsolo, S.176 (1849-50) [17:08]
Bagatelle ohne Tonart, S.216a (1885) [2:59]
La Notte, from Trois Odes Funèbres, S.516a (1864-66) [11:37]
Trauervorspiel und Trauermarsch, S.206 (1885) [6:42]
Hymne du matin, from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S.173a/2 (1847) [3:43]
Isolde's Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, S.447 (arr. Liszt 1867) [6:10]
En rêve: Nocturne, S.207 (1885) [2:26]
Zoltán KOCSIS (b. 1952)

Vorspiel from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde (arr. Zoltan Kocsis) [8:08]
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano)
rec. 23-25 November 2005, Fürstliche Reitbahn, Bad Arolsen, Germany. DDD
MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 604 1350-2 [75:18]




Here’s a Liszt recital from German record company Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm mixing the known and the relatively unknown.

As yet there is no definitive directory of all Liszt’s scores and some degree of caution should be exercised with catalogue information. For this review I have for identification purposes endeavoured to allocate an appropriate Searle number. Since Humphrey SearleA compiled a catalogue of Liszt’s works in 1966, that credits, "more than 700 compositions" numerous additional scores have come to light. This situation is not surprising as Liszt was so prolific and an inveterate reviser and transcriber. I have read of as many as 1,300 scores and consequently identification can be confusing. As part of the International Music Score Library Project, Wikipedia hold a detailed and invaluable ‘List of Compositions by Franz Liszt’ that contains additions to Searle’s 1966 list by Sharon Winklhofer and Leslie Howard. In two sections the list of Searle numbers (S) run from S.1 - S.350 and S.351 - S.999. It’s an invaluable tool for Lisztians.

The opening work on the disc is the Invocation, a score that appears to be an early version that was not allocated a Searle number. This is not the version of Invocation that lasts over six minutes from the Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S.173; a cycle inspired by Lamartine and published by Kistner in 1853. Jean-Efflam Bavouzet packs high drama into the three short minutes of this version. The Hymne à la nuit, S173a/1 and the Hymne du matin, S173a/2 together with the two unfinished works La Lampe du temple and Litanies de Marie were absent from published cycle of Harmonies poétiques et religieuses. Bavouzet in the Hymne à la nuit provides an interpretation that is evocative of reviewing the day’s events at the end of a long day. The Hymne du matin is a persuasive representation of the dawning of a new day.


In the Wiegenlied (Chant du berceau or Cradle song), S.198 I enjoyed the way that Bavouzet emphasises the harp-like effects. With Schlaflos! Frage und Antwort, S.203 the soloist impressively contrasts agitation, dissonance and poetic sentiments.

The feature work on this recital is the massive, single movement Grosses Konzertsolo (Grand Concert Solo), S.176; a superb score that deserves to be heard more often. This work could be described as Liszt’s prototype for the Piano Sonata, S178 (1852-53). It seems that the Grosses Konzertsolo, intended as a Paris Conservatoire competition piece, was dedicated to the gifted virtuoso pianist Adolf Henselt who declared that he was unable to play it. Liszt sent the score in 1852 to the Clara Schumann in the hope of her performing it in recital, however, she disliked it and held the opinion that it contained "empty virtuosity".

Liszt made other versions of the Grosses Konzertsolo: the Concerto pathétique, for two pianos, S.258 (1865) and the Concerto pathétique, S.365a in the Liszt/Eduard Reuss version (1885-86). The publicity leaflet that accompanies this MDG release claims that this is, "the recording première of the Grand Concert Solo in its original version". Although I do not have the score to compare each account note for note I am pretty certain that this is the same score as the recent performance of the Grosses Konzertsolo from soloist Giuseppe Andaloro on Naxos 8.557814; recorded some months earlier in March 2005 at the Potton Hall. Between the Bavouzet and Andaloro interpretations I found both to have merit. Bavouzet is rather impetuous, playing with a blistering, almost frenzied pace. Whilst Andaloro gives a superb performance and is not afraid to slow the tempo right down as he feels appropriate in an compelling interpretation that lasts 23 minutes, a full six minutes longer than Bavouzet.

With the Bagatelle ohne Tonart the booklet notes refer to the score as having an alternative title: the Mephisto Waltz No.4 (and I have also seen it designated Mephisto Waltz No.5). The Bagatelle ohne Tonart, played here by Bavouzet, is certainly not the same as the work entitled Mephisto Waltz No. 4, S696 (1885) on Naxos 8.557814 played by Andaloro; although the stated timings are exactly the same. Bavouzet with considerable nervous energy here communicates music of a swirling, constantly revolving character.


It seems that La Notte, S.516a is the second of Liszt’s Trois Odes funèbres (Three Funeral Odes) that were composed between 1860 and 1866. The MDG booklet notes are rather confusing here as is the complicated history of La Notte. Bavouzet is on fine form in the opening funereal movement. From 3:58 in the central section the soloist paints a picture of a glimpse of light – the dawn of hope. From 7:59 the closing section is knotty music full of weight.

In the Trauervorspiel und Trauermarsch, S.206 Bavouzet provides a macabre feel to the dark Trauervorspiel. The extended Trauermarsch is music of a predominantly trudging and repetitive character that gradually increases in tempo evoking threat and anguish. The brief piece En rêve: Nocturne is a delightful evocation of a dream-like, sunlit idyll.

Bavouzet makes a worthy case for the splendid Kocsis arrangement of the Vorspiel. It certainly deserves a place in the repertoire. I regard Liszt’s magnificent 1867 arrangement of Isolde's Liebestod, S.447 from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde as a work of the utmost artistic merit. Bavouzet provides passion combined with considerable energy, yet, avoids any hint of the grandiose.

This is a decent enough recital disc but not a remarkable one. The competition is fierce in Liszt’s solo piano repertoire and there are many other alternative collections to choose from. For those Liszt piano music collectors wanting superbly played and recorded recitals I can highly recommend the following two recordings both of which are performed by the magisterial Lisztian Jorge Bolet:-

i) Jorge Bolet ‘Favourite Piano Works’ on a digitally remastered Double Decca 444 851-2.B

ii) Jorge Bolet ‘Bolet Discovered’ on RCA Red Seal 82876 63310 2.C

Of the newer recordings, Naxos have released, as part of their continuing Liszt series, two excellent recital discs this year (2007) that can be recommended:-

iii) Complete Liszt Piano Music, Vol. 24 played by Giuseppe Andaloro on Naxos 8.557814

iv) Complete Liszt Piano Music, Vol. 25, ‘Verdi Concert Paraphrases and Transcriptions’ played by Alexandre Dossin on Naxos 8.557904.

I enjoyed this Liszt recital but there are other collections around that I found more satisfying.

Michael Cookson

Notes:

A‘The Music of Liszt’ by Humphrey Searle, Dover Publications, second revised edition (1966)
BJorge Bolet ‘Favourite Piano Works’ on a digitally remastered Double Decca 444 851-2. Bolet recorded the works between 1978-1985, however, the locations are not given: Liebesträume No. 3, S541/3; Mephisto Waltz No 1, S514; Funérailles (Harmonies poétiques No. 7), S173/7; Réminiscences de Don Juan, S418; La Campanella (Grand Paganini Étude No. 3) S141/3; Die Forelle (after Schubert, D. 550), S564; Erlkönig (after Schubert, D. 328d), S558/4; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12, S244/12; Consolation No. 3, S172/3; Sonetto 104 del Petrarca (Années II/5), S161/5; Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este (Années III/4), S163/4; Au bord d'une source (Années I/4), S160/4; Gnomenreigen, S145/2; Un sospiro (Grande études de concert No. 3), S144/3; Rigoletto concert paraphrase (after Verdi), S434 & Piano Sonata in B minor, S178.
CJorge Bolet ‘Bolet Discovered’ on RCA Red Seal 82876 63310 2. The digitally remastered recordings were made in the RCA Studio A, New York City, USA in 1972-73: Liebesträume No. 3 in A flat major, S. 541/3; Gnomenreigen, S145/2; Un sospiro, S. 144/3; Funérailles, S.173/7; La Campanella, S. 141/3; Waldesrauschen; S145; Grand Galop chromatique, S. 219; Rhapsodie espagnole, S. 254 & Overture Tannhäuser (after Wagner), S. 442.


see also review by Colin Clarke

 


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