Ferenc LISZT (1811-1886)
Crux! - Hymne des Marins S35 (1865) [1:45]
Via Crucis S53 (1878-9) [39:46]
Die Seligkeiten S25 (1853) [9:34]
Pro Papa: (1) Tu es Petrus S59/1 (1880) [1:32]; (2) Dominus conservet eum S59/2 (1880) [1:21]
O Roma nobilis S54 (1879) [2:59]
Nun danket alle Gott S61 (1883) [6:39]
Der Herr bewahret die Seelen seiner Heiligen S48 (1875) [1:36]
Kármen Szollosi, Andrea Molnár (sopranos), Tünde Gyorfi Hovancsek (alto). Tamás Kurgyis (tenor), Ferenc Szucs (baritone), Zsolt Fenyvesi (bass)
Balázs Madarassy, Imre Hegedus (trumpets), Róbert Stürzenbaum, István Juhász, Mariann Krasznai (trombones), Sándor Papp (tuba), Anikó Marku (timpani), Dezso Karasszon (organ)
Debreceni Kodály Chorus/Zoltán Pad
rec. Debrecen- Szabadságtelep Reformed Church, 29 June-2 July 2010. DDD

The choral music of Franz Liszt is a little frequented corner of his catalogue. This disc, with Hungarian forces, takes us on a guided tour around one major extended work and seven shorter - often very short - pieces.

Crux! - Hymne des Marins is an a cappella piece for male voices alone. It is a yeoman-steady unison piece with the feel of Sibelius's anthems heard at length in the Bis Sibelius Edition volume 11. The music here is rounded and lightly influenced by plainchant. Via Crucis - once familiar to me from the ancient 1960s Saga LP XID5079 made by the BBC Northern Singers/Gordon Thorne - is more frankly influenced by plainchant. This time there is a prominent and assertively dramatic role for the organ which here is balanced nicely with the choral image. The organ is no mere onlooker either. It plays an emotionally engaged role which had Liszt perhaps had more time he would have orchestrated. Via Crucis opens an almost operatic sensibility onto a devotional subject and does so with solos interspersed among the choral singing. The ‘hammer-strokes’ in track 13 on the word 'Crucifige' are very vivid. This is throughout a completely committed showing by the Debreceni Kodaly Chorus, Zoltán Pad and the superb organist, Dezso Karasszon.

There's some wonderfully honeyed singing in Die Seligkeiten. The two Pro Papa pieces like Die Seligkeiten were dedicated to a Pope and are suitably fervent and stirring. The same goes for the otherwise the rather four-square hymn O Roma Nobilis. The focus of interest in Nun danket alle Gott lies with the organ which surges joyously along like a tidal race. That tireless holy strength also suffuses the Der Herr bewahret die Seelen seiner Heiligen. It ends the disc on an excitingly massive note where choir and organ are joined by brass ensemble and kettle drum.

The booklet is in four languages including Hungarian and English. The sung words are printed side by side in Hungarian, Latin and English.

Listening to this disc one not only makes some vibrantly sung discoveries but also gets some idea of the origins of Kodály's very worthwhile and extensive choral works – most famously the Psalmus Hungaricus (Fischer Kertesz Fricsay).

Rob Barnett

Vibrantly sung discoveries.