Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 1; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 3; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 4; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 5; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Liszt
LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 1; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 3; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 4; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 5; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6
PERFORMER: Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer
CATALOGUE NO: 456 570-2
This is a very strange CD. Iván Fischer has restored some of the ‘improvised gypsy music-making’ which would have been present in Liszt’s original sources. The sound of two cimbaloms adds local colour to the scores, but only in the first few Rhapsodies: by the time we’ve reached the Sixth and last, Fischer has tired of this particular trick. Then there are real gypsy violin solos, played by real gypsy violinists (the Lendvais, father and son) in three of the Rhapsodies, and decorations and extra flourishes in the wind. The result is a curious hybrid: sometimes it approaches the feel of authentic gypsy music, most strongly in the clarinet cadenza accompanied by cimbaloms in the Third Rhapsody. But more often than not the gypsy touches sit uneasily with Liszt’s quite deliberate ‘concert’ treatment of his material. None of this is mentioned on the outside of the CD, and you could easily think that you were buying real Liszt. All this could be forgiven if the performances had some bite, but they are surprisingly tame. There is no feeling of the strings really digging in and swaying with the dance rhythms, and the dry recording strips the sound of any vestige of glamour. Martin Cotton

Advertisement