WORKS: Jugendglück; Die Macht Der Musik
PERFORMER: Philip Langridge (tenor); John Constable (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DKP(CD) 9162 DDD
Only Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and, to a lesser extent, Nicolai Gedda have made any serious investigation on record into the songs of Franz Liszt. So Philip Langridge’s new disc, which includes at least eight songs not readily available elsewhere at the moment, is doubly welcome. Most notably he tackles the wonderful, visionary triptych of Schiller settings: the cameos of the Fisherboy, the Shepherd and the Alpine Huntsman; and enjoys the spontaneously rhapsodic ‘Jugendglück’ every bit as much as the long and overblown ‘Die Macht der Musik’.
This recital is distinctive, too, in its choice of versions. With the exception of the beautifully spare middle setting of three Liszt made of Goethe’s ‘Wanderers Nachtlied’, all these songs enable us to eavesdrop on Liszt’s very first thoughts: the number of subsequent revisions he made – each with its own virtues – reflect the composer’s own misgivings and awe of the form.
Each song receives a strongly etched performance by both tenor and pianist. Langridge responds best to the dramatic genius in Liszt, and nowhere more so than in the fiercely declamatory ‘My songs are poisoned’ and the famous ‘Three Gypsies’ – one of the most haunting settings in the entire repertoire. Hilary Finch