Tim Ashley 

Liszt: Songs – review

Julius Drake and Angelika Kirchschlager take on Liszt's more reflective works in this second instalment of the composers' songs, writes Tim Ashley
  
  

This is the second instalment of Hyperion's retrospective of Liszt's complete songs, the brainchild of pianist Julius Drake, and one of the most important recording projects of recent years. It's very different from its predecessor, which featured tenor Matthew Polenzani and songs by Liszt at his most spectacular and extrovert. With mezzo Angelika Kirchschlager, Drake now steers us into territory that is altogether more reflective, while some of Liszt's most familiar songs, such as Es Muss ein Wunderbares Sein, are included in the programme. As so often with Liszt's vocal music, you're struck by the experimental nature of the relationship between text and sound, and by the mixture of genius and occasional failure that results. You might not want to listen to his Jeanne d'Arc au Bûcher very often, but there are also glorious things here, including his setting of Goethe's Über Allen Gipfel Ist Ruh. Kirchschlager is exquisite and intensely dramatic by turns, though occasionally she could do with more weight in her lower registers. Drake is outstanding throughout.

 

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