WORKS: New Liszt discoveries, Vol. 3: Romancero espagnol, S695c; Christus, S498c: Two Pieces; Magnificat, S182a etc
PERFORMER: Leslie Howard (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67810
These CDs, the 98th and 99th in Leslie Howard’s epic Liszt series, amount to something more than the latest necessary purchase for completists: indeed this latest batch of previously unknown or long-forgotten items assembles into a pleasingly comprehensive musical portrait.
Liszt the flamboyant touring virtuoso is represented here by the Romancero espagnol of 1845 (some similar material to Rhapsodie espagnole, but very different treatment); the towering master-composer of the Weimar years by Wilde Jagd: Scherzo (a prototype of the Scherzo and March, not of the Wilde Jagd study itself); the benign musical poet by Schlummerlied of 1882, a variant of one of the Weihnachtsbaum pieces; and the transcriber by several fine items, including an early, 1837 version of the Pilgrims’ March from Berlioz’s Harold in Italy. Even the sequence of tiny Album-Leaves has its moments.
To all this Howard brings his by now happily familiar way with Liszt’s idiom. As ever, he beautifully allows the composer’s spontaneous, improvisatory streak to speak as naturally as it likes, and needs to. And if his delivery of the Romancero espagnol is on the mellow side, this is evidently by choice, because the power unleashed in Wilde Jagd: Scherzo is as impressive as you’ll find anywhere. Memo to fellow-Lisztians: don’t hesitate. Malcolm Hayes