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Liszt – The Complete Songs - 2

Der du von dem Himmel bist S279 first version; Ihr Glockenvon Marling S328; Ein Fichtenbaumsteht einsam S309; Vergiftet sind meine Lieder S289; Freudvoll und leidvoll S280; Die drei Zigeuner S320; Uber allen Gipfeln ist Ruh’ S306; J’ai perdu ma force et ma vie S327; Jeanne d’Arc au bucher S293; Es war ein Konig in Thule S278; Muttergottes-Strausslein zum Mai-Monate S326; Und sprich S329; Ihr Auge S310; Im Rhein, im schonen Strome; S272; Es muss ein Wunderbares sein S314; La perla S326; Der du von dem Himmel bist S279 third version

Angelika Kirchschlager – mezzo-soprano
Julius Drake – piano

Hyperion CDA67934, Recorded October 2011, 63 minutes

I suppose many of us think of a Liszt as the virtuoso genius of the keyboard, composing and playing original works and transcriptions of breathtaking complexity.  Hyperion has trodden that path and their edition of complete works for solo piano runs to 57 volumes.

That they have now turned their attention to Liszt’s Songs is most welcome, and provide us with a case of Cinderella finally coming to the ball!

The first volume, sung by tenor Matthew Polenzani (CDA67782) is excellent, but I think this second volume is better.   There is a deceptive simplicity to these songs, whilst piano and voice are perfectly balanced, we hear also Liszt’s unique ability to make his piano “speak” with the tongue of other instruments. 

Two very fine examples are included in this selection:  Die drei Zigeuner where the lilting Magyar gypsy strings dance in and out of the accompaniment and Jeanne d’Arc au bucher where a swashbuckling bugle call leads in to Joan’s demand for her banner to carry with her to the stake, in a wonderful setting of Dumas’ poem. 

Angelika Kirchschlager and Julius Drake seem to find a real affinity for these songs and their performances are exemplary. 

Serena Fenwick