Liszt: Dante Symphony; Symphonic Poems

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WORKS: Dante Symphony; Symphonic Poems
PERFORMER: Volker Arndt (treble), Matthias Eisenberg (organ); Leipzig Thomaskirche Choir, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/Kurt Masur
CATALOGUE NO: CZS 5 68598 2 ADD (1981)
At last, here’s a reissue of Kurt Masur’s matchless account of Liszt’s rarely encountered Dante Symphony, companion to his acknowledged masterpiece A Faust Symphony, and a clutch of tone poems, similarly under-represented on disc. Ce qu’on entend sur la montagne (earliest of Liszt’s orchestral tone poems), based on a text by Victor Hugo, is a fearfully pictorial creation, unsparingly evinced by Masur. Festklänge and Hunnenschlacht are more familiar, while Die Ideale and Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe (the only work here not dating from Liszt’s Weimar period, 1848-61) invoke philosophical rather than geographical or historical themes. These performances are unrivalled; powerfully drawn, yet mercifully free of bombast, though it is Masur’s 1980 Dante Symphony, simply the best ever recorded, which makes this set indispensable. Michael Jameson