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Cat. No. CHAN 9864 Price: Ł0 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9864 - Liszt: Works for Piano & Orchestra, Vol. 2
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Available From: 12 March 2001
Music in the Romantic era took on an illustrative function to a degree never previously dreamt of, and many of Liszt’s piano works, in particular, are rich in pictorial imagery, especially when evoking the world of nature (rippling brooks, summer storms, birdsong and so on). Often, compositions were inspired specifically by another work of art, but in a different medium, and generally from a different time. Totentanz (as frightening a vision as anything he ever wrote) derived much of its form and character from a particularly gruesome fresco by the fourteenth-century painter, sculptor, architect and poet Andrea Orcagna, entitled The Triumph of Death (and in death we have yet another of the Romantic’s obsessions). A further part of the fresco’s strong appeal to Liszt was its very antiquity. Small wonder, then, that for the very basis of his Totentanz (by general consent the finest of his concerto works) Liszt chose the Dies Irae, the medieval chant for the dead most famously used by Berlioz in his Symphnoie fantastique and by Rachmaninov (long after Liszt) in his Paganini Rhapsody. The whole work is a set of variations on that fearsome theme, but it wasn’t always so. In a manuscript predating the final score by a decade there is an interlude based on a different liturgical chant, the De profundis. Liszt clearly abandoned this theme in the course of revision (possibly, among other reasons, because the theme may well be Liszt’s own and not an ancient chant at all). Begun in or around 1834 but never finished, the work presented here is heavily based on the ostensible De profundis, and lay forgotten and unknown for many years of the twentieth century.

Liszt’s most famous ‘national’ works are undoubtedly the Hungarian Rhapsodies for solo piano, one of which, No. 14 in F minor, provides the basis for the Fantasy on Hungarian Folk-tunes recorded here, though the latter is an extended reworking of the former.
Reviews

‘Playing of such power and intelligence cannot easily be dismissed.’
New York Times on CHAN 8548 (Liszt Piano Sonata in B minor)

‘Louis Lortie plays all these works with immaculate brio… He is admirably [artnered throughout, and Chandos’ sound and balance are natural and refined. Volume 2 of Liszt’s original works for piano and orchestra is eagerly awaited.’
Gramophone on CHAN 9801 (Volume 1)

 

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