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Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
1. Die drei Zigeuner (Drei Zigeuner fand ich einmal liegen an einer Weide), S320 (1860) [5:53]
2. Du bist wie eine Blume, S287 (1842-3) [2:06]
3. Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam, S309/1 (1855, rev. 1860) [2:41]
4. Vergiftet sind meine Lieder, S289 (1842) [1:25]
5. Die Loreley (Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten), S 273 (2nd version 1856) [2:32]
6. Ihr Glocken von Marling, S328 (1874) [2:32]
7. Die stille Wasserrose, S321 (c.1860) [3:04]
8. Blume und Duft (In Frühlings Heiligtume), S324 (1860) [2:15]
9. Es rauschen die Winde, S294/2 (1845, rev. c.1860) [3:38]
10. Ich möchte hingehn, S296 (1845) [7:32]
11. Gebet, S331 (1878) [3:31]
12. Freudvoll und leidvoll (Klärchens Lied), S280 (1844, rev. 1848, c.1860) [2:33]
13. Wandrers Nachtlied II (Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh), S306 (1848, rev. c.1859) [4:38]
14. Wandrers Nachtlied I (Der du von dem Himmel bist), S279 (2nd version 1856) [3:25]
15. Mignons Lied (Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn), S275 (1842, rev. 1856, 1860) [6:24]
16. Wie singt die Lerche schön, S312 (1856) [2:01]
17. Wieder möcht' ich dir begegnen, S322 (1860) [2:55]
18. Laßt mich ruhen, S317 (1858) [3:17]
19. Es muß ein Wunderbares sein, S314 (1857) [1:55]
20. Ihr Auge (Nimm einen Strahl der Sonne), S310 (1855) [0:57]
21. O lieb, solang du lieben kannst, S298 (1845) [4:46]
Ruth Ziesak (soprano)
Gerold Huber (piano)
rec. 18-22 September 2007, Kammermusiksaal Deutschlandfunk, Cologne, Germany. DDD


Experience Classicsonline

His lieder with piano accompaniment should not be brushed aside as mere trivialities.”
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau 

From Liszt’s vast corpus of mainly solo piano works there are, by my reckoning, some eighty or so songs. They set texts by his favourite, mainly German poets: Heinrich Heine, Johann Wolfgang Goethe and Friedrich Schiller and also other nationalities such as Nikolaus Lenau, Victor Hugo et al.

Liszt’s lieder cannot claim to be to the same elevated standard as those of his contemporaries: Schubert, Schumann and Mendelssohn but they make rewarding listening. Certainly they are more than a mere sideline to his huge compositional output. Liszt took the composition of his songs seriously and music writer Kathrin Feldmann expresses the opinion that, “Franz Liszt viewed his songs with a great deal of objectivity and a critical-constructive position.”A Through his lieder it is possible to chart the development of Liszt’s compositional style from illustrative tone-painting to a more economical form of expression for his love of literature. A check on the compositional dates reveals that the settings emanate predominantly from Liszt’s Weimar Years (1848-61).

The German soprano Ruth Ziesak studied in Frankfurt and began her singing career as a member of the Heidelberg Municipal Theatre. By the early 1990s Ziesak had established an international career in lyric soprano operatic roles, also in lieder and in concert performances. She is an impressive lieder performer and demonstrates here her mellow timbre and enviable tuning. Her secure technique only rarely threatens to loosen under pressure, such as in the testing Wieder möcht' ich dir begegnen.

Of the many highlights I especially enjoyed the opening song, the celebrated Die drei Zigeuner with its striking piano introduction. Ziesak demonstrates a remarkably assured delivery throughout the varying moods of the challenging score. In the Vergiftet sind meine Lieder Ziesak is dramatic, soaring to the heavens and she delivers a beautifully rapturous interpretation of the famous Die Loreley

Die stille Wasserrose is buoyantly powerful and dramatic and I was highly satisfied with the passionate outpourings of both Der du von dem Himmel bist and Mignons Lied. I enjoyed Ziesak’s beautiful singing in the melancholic Es muß ein Wunderbares sein and was delighted with her confidence and boldly vigorous performance of Ihr Auge. Few could fail to be impressed with her performance of Liszt’s melodious setting O lieb, solang du lieben kannst – one that he later arranged into the famous solo piano score Liebesträume No. 3, S541. 

In the catalogue of Liszt lieder recordings one of the most enduring versions has been the 1979-80 London performances on EMI from the eminent mezzo Dame Janet Baker accompanied by the impressive Geoffrey Parsons. Dame Janet splendidly interprets a fine selection of twelve lieder on a double set on EMI Classics 5 73836-2 (c/w Schumann 12 lieder (Barenboim, piano) and Mendelssohn 16 lieder). I note that the EMI set duplicates half of the twelve songs contained on Ziesak’s disc. See the track listing in the footnotes.B 

For those wishing to explore more of Liszt’s vocal music I can also recommend a disc of a selection of Liszt’s twenty-six extant orchestral songs performed by various soloists accompanied by the Hungarian State Orchestra conducted by András Kórodi. The disc was recorded in 1985 in Budapest on Hungaroton HCD 12105. The track details are listed in the notes below.C

I was highly delighted with these assured performances from the outstanding soprano Ruth Ziesak and her impeccable accompanist Gerold Huber. Recorded in Cologne, the sound quality achieved by the Berlin Classics engineers is excellent. Although this set includes an English translation of the splendid essay we are denied an English translation of the German song texts. This is an omission that seems disrespectful of Liszt’s strenuous efforts to set texts sensitively. It’s also a lost opportunity for English speakers to assess Ziesak’s interpretive prowess. The disc is nevertheless a likely contender for one of my 2008 Records of the Year.

Michael Cookson


A Kathrin Feldmann writing in the sleeve-notes to the 2007 release of Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt Lieder performed by Konrad Jarnot (baritone) and Alexander Schmalcz (piano) on Oehms Classics OC 804.

B Lieder
Dame Janet Baker (mezzo); Geoffrey Parsons (piano)

ADD remastered, recorded at Abbey Road studios, London 1979-80 from EMI Classics 5 73836-2 (c/w Lieder Schumann & Mendelssohn): Die Loreley; Du bist wie eine Blume; S'il est un charmant gazon; Im Rhein im schönen Strome; Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh; Der du von dem Himmel bist; Es war ein König in Thule; Freudvoll und leidvoll; Die Drei Zigeuner; Das Veilchen; Die Vätergruft; Die Fischerstochter.

C Orchestral Songs

Ilona Tokody (soprano); Tamara Takács (mezzo-soprano); Klára Takács (mezzo-soprano); András Molnár (tenor) & Sándor Sólyom-Nagy (baritone) with Zoltán Dõry (violin). Hungarian State Orchestra conducted by András Kórodi. DDD, recorded 1985 on Hungaroton HCD 12105: Die Loreley, S369 (Heinrich Heine); Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher, S373 (Alexandre Dumas Sr.); Mignons Lied, S370 (Johann Wolfgang Goethe); Three Songs from Wilhelm Tell, S372 (Friedrich Schiller): a) Der Fischerknabe; b) Der Hirt & c) Der Alpenjäger; Die drei Zigeuner, S374 (Nikolaus Lenau).


As part of the International Music Score Library Project, Wikipedia (the free on-line encyclopedia) hold a detailed and helpful ‘List of Compositions by Franz Liszt’ that evidently contains additions to Humphrey Searle’s 1966 list made 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. This list proves to be valuable tool for Lisztians.



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