Liszt: Les préludes; Mazeppa; Tasso; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2; Rhapsody No. 4; Rhapsody No. 5; Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Melodies; Mephisto Waltz

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Liszt
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Les préludes; Mazeppa; Tasso; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2; Rhapsody No. 4; Rhapsody No. 5; Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Melodies; Mephisto Waltz
PERFORMER: Shura Cherkassky (piano)Berlin PO/Herbert von Karajan
CATALOGUE NO: 453 130-2 ADDReissue (1961-76)
Several of the recordings amassed on these two discs are over 30 years old, but the revamped digital transfers enable Karajan’s irresistibly virtuosic performances of these Liszt tone poems (some, like Mazeppa and the Goethe-inspired Tasso are by no means as familiar as they deserve to be) and other orchestral works (including three Hungarian Rhapsodies and the Mephisto Waltz) to register with an impact and brilliance unimaginable on the basis of the original LP releases. Les préludes, of course, was a longstanding Karajan staple; this stunning 1968 account is almost certainly definitive, and nor will you hear any finer versions of the three Rhapsodies included here. But of especial interest to Lisztians will be Shura Cherkassky’s bravura performance of the Fantasia on Hungarian Melodies, now restored to the catalogue after prolonged absence. These are vintage Karajan offerings, and brightly lit, richly detailed remasterings make this set a clear winner. Michael Jameson

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