Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Ad nos, ad salutarem undam (arr. organ &
orchestra, Marcel Dupré) [27:12]
Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (arr. orchestra, Leó Weiner) [18:18]
Orpheus (1856, organ version after 1860) [10:52]
Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H (arr. orchestra, Rainer Bischof) [13:17]
Christian Schmitt (organ)
Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserlautern/Martin Haselböck
rec. 6-8 January 2012, Philharmonie Luxembourg.
CPO 777 472-2 [69:58]
If one thinks of the name Liszt and the word
‘transcription’, the first things which are likely to spring to mind
are his work on the symphonies of Beethoven or the music of Wagner.
This programme introduces work done on the music of Liszt by other
composers, and is the tip of a rather substantial iceberg when it comes
to the influential effect Liszt has had on music.
The best work here is the Marcel Dupré version for orchestra and organ
of Ad nos, ad salutarem undam which opens the
programme. This is confidently orchestrated, with a convincing division
of material between soloist and the rest and some fine lyrical solos
from the winds. There are some magical moments such as that with harp
and glockenspiel 15:04 in, and the whole has an encouragingly
substantial ‘concerto’ feel.
Leo Weiner was a contemporary of Dupré, and his orchestration of Weinen,
Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen is suitably dramatic and also highly
effective in this setting. There isn’t a vast amount of passion
emanating from the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken
Kaiserlautern so we’re not holding onto the edge of our seats, but this
is a useful enough rendition.
Liszt’s Orpheus is originally for orchestra, but
works well on organ. The booklet makes something of the Luxembourg
Philharmonic Hall organ, which is described as ‘universal’ in its
assimilation of German, French and Anglo-American characteristics. It
is a fine sounding instrument though the Philharmonie acoustic is warm
rather than rich in terms of resonance, and with such an amalgam of
identities this is arguably a ‘neither fish nor flesh’ sound. There are
also one or two minor tuning issues such as the descant 4:00 into Orpheus,
but as with the rest of this CD the music is serviceable enough.
Least successful to my ears is the Rainer Bischoff orchestration of the
Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H, which makes
the most of the low brass and winds to create a juicy organ-like noise
at times. There are however some Tom & Jerry percussion extras
which jar more than somewhat, such as the hilariously cheesy woodblock
around seven minutes in and a rather unnecessary vibraphone which
brings a touch of Milt Jackson to the whole thing. The orchestral
playing is also not universally wonderful in this technically highly
demanding piece, the B-A-C-H theme heroic only in the sense of pumping
up a bicycle tyre can be.
All in all this is a disc to intrigue and invite further exploration
rather than one which will blow your socks off into a new dimension.
The SACD sound is fine but the performances are more soggy than
bracingly inspired - something which may have to do with the acoustic
or balances sought between organ and orchestra.