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Liszt: A Faust Symphony (Version For 2 Pianos)

Liszt / Ullmann / Franz Liszt Piano Duo / Lsmco
Release Date: 06/28/2011 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572560   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz Liszt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Franz Liszt Piano Duo
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

LISZT A Faust Symphony (arr. 2 pianos) Franz Liszt Pn Duo; Jürgen Puschbeck, cond; Marcus Ullmann (ten); Liszt School C Ch, Weimar NAXOS 8.572560 (68:07)

For Liszt’s two-piano arrangement of the Faust Symphony to come across as something more than a curiosity it requires an unusual degree of involvement and hair-trigger ensemble well in excess of what one hears from Vittorio Bresciani and Francesco Nicolosi, or what Read more one heard from Bresciani and Tiziano Poli in 1997 (Nuova Era 7284), performances that miss their mark in similar ways. Lacking accounts by the sisters Labèque or Mangos, for a two-piano Faust Symphony with bite, narrative, and character one must track down a no-longer-available performance by Thomas Hitzlberger and Georg Schütz (cpo 999 056-2) evincing a spot-on unanimity as surprising as it is gratifying in an apparently ad hoc collaboration. Part of their incisiveness owes to sparing use of the pedal, where Breciani and Nicolosi lay it on, blunting the play of parts, the sparks and crackle; nor does their ensemble always click. For instance, chez the Franz Liszt Piano Duo Mephistopheles’s skittish diablerie becomes a feckless tiptoe through the tulips, where Hitzlberger and Schütz project aerated mocking menace. Unfortunately, their account ends without the tenor solo and choral finale, which Naxos’s album includes. It may well be the most effective on discs. In too many performances, after sizzling orchestral work the vocal parts seem tacked on—which they were—with tenor after clueless tenor left to stretch “Das Ewig-Weibliche Zieht uns hinan” over a pullulating musical elaboration, usually lapsing into singsong and ennui to provoke a sense of anticlimax. Here, on the other hand, Marcus Ullmann’s melodic phrasing and evident conviction, unfazed by verbal repetition, bring Liszt’s expressive point persuasively home, abetted by rapt choral work and Jürgen Puschbeck’s knowing leadership. Sound is taken in a slight recess within a spacious aural frame, avoiding clotting at climactic moments. In this whelmingly celebrated bicentenary of Liszt’s birth, the Hitzlberger/Schütz Faust Symphony is a preeminent candidate for reissue (but don’t hold your breath). One could then segue the present issue’s vocals to it.

FANFARE: Adrian Corleonis
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Works on This Recording

Faust Symphony for 2 Pianos, S 647 by Franz Liszt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Franz Liszt Piano Duo
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856/1860; Weimar, Germany 

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