Liszt, Busoni

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Busoni,Liszt
LABELS: DG
WORKS: A Dante Symphony; Sarabande and Cortège, Op. 51
PERFORMER: Dresden State Opera Chorus, Dresden Staatskapelle/Giuseppe Sinopoli
CATALOGUE NO: 457 614-2
Liszt’s Dante Symphony has always suffered in the popularity stakes by comparison with the Faust Symphony. This new recording joins only three others in the current catalogue, but I would dare to suggest it sweeps the board. Sinopoli, whose idiosyncratic interpretative style upturns as often as it rejuvenates works, is on safe ground here. Liszt’s own quick changes of mood and sweeping Romanticism suit Sinopoli’s volatile way. As in the Faust Symphony, Liszt’s music hovers between the devilish and the ethereal, and the Dresden Staatskapelle responds with equal verve to these two opposites. The recording gives ample room to the women’s voices of the Dresden State Opera Chorus as they evocatively sing the words of the Magnificat.

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Busoni’s opera Doktor Faust is arguably even more of a rarity than Liszt’s Symphony. These two ‘Studies’ occasionally appear in concert and there are a couple of recordings in the catalogue. But they are superbly drawn here, with a steady, often ghostly tread to the ‘Sarabande’ coupled with a witty, perky ‘Cortège’; maybe one day Sinopoli, or someone else, could be persuaded to come up with a recording of the whole opera in Anthony Beaumont’s completion. Matthew Rye