Complete Songs, Vol. 3

By Phillips, Rick | Opera Canada, Summer 2015 | Go to article overview

Complete Songs, Vol. 3


Phillips, Rick, Opera Canada


COMPLETE SONGS, VOL. 3

LISZT

Finley/ Drake

Hyperion: CDA67956

When we think of the music of Franz Liszt, it's the virtuosic piano music and symphonic poems that spring easily to mind. But Liszt also composed over 70 original songs with piano, set in German, French, Italian, his Hungarian mother tongue, and even one in English. As a visionary 19thcentury musician, he never seemed completely satisfied with the art song as he inherited it. He was constantly experimenting and exploring the very concept and scope of the genre. The great German poet Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) wrote of the composer:"... this restless mind, driven to distraction by all the troubles and dogmas of the day, feeling the need to encumber himself with all of humanity's demands, gladly sticks his nose into all the pots in which the good God is cooking the future: that Franz Liszt could not be merely a nice, biddable virtuoso pianist for contended merchants is clear."

To honour the Liszt bicentennial in 2011, English collaborative pianist Julius Drake and Australian pianist and Liszt specialist Leslie Howard began to coordinate a project for the Hyperion label to record the complete songs by Liszt. Vol. 1 featured the U.S. tenor, Matthew Polenzani, while Vol. 2 was with the Austrian mezzo, Angelika Kirchschlager. Vol. 3 has recently been released with Canadian bass-baritone Gerald Finley. Drake is the pianist for all three recordings.

Vol. 3 covers songs composed by Liszt over a period of about 40 years, from 1844-1884. While the earlier songs illustrate Liszt's Italian bel canto influences, the later songs are dark, doomed, death-tinged comments. …

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