Liszt: A Faust Symphony

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WORKS: A Faust Symphony
PERFORMER: Kenneth Riegel (tenor); Tanglewood Festival Chorus, Boston SO/Leonard Bernstein
CATALOGUE NO: 447 449-2 ADD (1977)
This was Bernstein’s second skirmish with Liszt’s Faust Symphony of 1854. Less febrile and acerbic than his 1960 New York performance (now on Sony’s Royal Edition), this shatteringly confrontational account radiates Lenny’s inimitable brand of pictorialism. Faust’s questing spirit and nebulous passions are powerfully deployed against crushing Mephistophelean nihilism, before he attains redemption through the love of the inviolate Gretchen. The Boston Symphony plays magnificently throughout, and the reprocessed 1976 masters have emerged with commendable transparency and freshness. Rattle’s Berlin version notwithstanding, this is perhaps the greatest recording ever made of this work. Unreservedly recommended. Michael Jameson