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Liszt: The Complete Songs Vol 1 / Matthew Polenzani, Julius Drake

Liszt / Polenzani / Drake
Release Date: 11/09/2010 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67782   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz Liszt
Performer:  Matthew PolenzaniJulius Drake
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

I can hardly wait for the next instalment.

Recordings of Liszt songs are not all that rare. I have quite a few LPs and CDs, entirely or partly devoted to this repertoire. To my knowledge no record company has embarked upon the project of recording all of them. And it will be quite a hard task, I presume. Songs span most of Liszt’s creative years, from Angiolin dal biondo crin in 1839 to the orchestration of Die Vätergruft in 1886. Not only are there around six dozen songs but many of them exist in several versions, as on the present disc where only three of the songs are solitaires. There is no mention of the number of discs in the series, nor is there any explanation to the order of songs. To me it
Read more seems haphazard, presumably the aim of the programming is to create a varied disc. For musicological reasons there could have been either of two principles: strictly chronological order or the different versions of each song grouped together. Preferably a combination of the two principles would have been the ideal. To be able to compare versions is, I believe, interesting to a lot of listeners.

Don’t let these reflections deter you from acquiring this disc, however. In Matthew Polenzani we have a well-nigh ideal Lieder singer and with one of the very best accompanists now before the public they team up as a marvellous duo. The first time I heard Polenzani was more than six years ago when I had an opera recital with four young international singers for review. I was impressed by his beauty of tone as well as his sense for style and impeccable taste. Those characteristics are very much in evidence throughout this disc. Add to this that he moves effortlessly from forte to half-voice, so important for a Lieder-singer, and he means something with the words. Klinge leide, mein Lied, the first song on this disc, is a suitable calling-card. The next song, In Liebeslust, shows him as a powerful and dramatic singing-actor, with no loss of beauty. Let me also at once give Julius Drake credit for his marvellous playing. Liszt’s ‘accompaniments’ are hardly less demanding than Rachmaninov’s, and very often spotlights the pianist in long preludes and interludes. Der Fischerknabe, the first of the Wilhelm Tell songs by Schiller, is a good example. This mini-cycle is filled with word-painting – just listen to Der Hirt with its dramatic postlude – and Der Alpenjäger, which follows attacca is no less heroic.

Angiolin dal biondo crin, which was his first song (1839) is here heard in its third version, written twenty years later, and it’s an agreeable song where Polenzani caresses the melody.

Possibly the technically most demanding songs are the three Petrach-sonetti, the first of them requiring the singer to move from the lowest baritone register up to the C sharp above high C – and virtuosic as well.

There were several songs here that I hadn’t heard before but this disc confirms that Liszt must be counted among the foremost song composers of the 19 th century. Maybe he doesn’t always reach the sublime heights of Schubert, Schumann or Brahms but he has a distinct voice of his own and Matthew Polenzani is a splendid advocate of his oeuvre.

As always with Hyperion the production value is high: excellent recording, good liner-notes and we do get the texts and translations.

I can hardly wait for the next instalment in the series and whoever they choose for the second distance I’m sure it will be someone else from the A team. We have got used to that, ever since they launched the mammoth Schubert project. But I would definitely not mind hearing Matthew Polenzani again.

-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Kling leise, mein Lied, S 301 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Matthew Polenzani (Tenor), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1848; Weimar, Germany 
2.
In Liebeslust, S 318 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Matthew Polenzani (Tenor), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1858; Weimar, Germany 
3.
Wie singt die Lerche schön, S 312 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Matthew Polenzani (Tenor), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1856; Weimar, Germany 
4.
Die stille Wasserrose, S 321 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Matthew Polenzani (Tenor), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1860 
5.
Songs (3) from William Tell, S 292 no 1 (1st version) by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Matthew Polenzani (Tenor), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845; Germany 
6.
Der Glückliche, S 334 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Matthew Polenzani (Tenor), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1878; Rome, Italy 
7.
Angiolin dal biondo crin, S 269 no 1 (1st version) by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Matthew Polenzani (Tenor), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1839; Weimar, Germany 
8.
Petrarch Sonnets (3), S 270 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Matthew Polenzani (Tenor), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1839/1861; Switzerland 
Notes: First version. 
9.
Bist du, S 277 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Matthew Polenzani (Tenor), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843/1878; Germany 
Notes: Second version. 
10.
Es rauschen die Winde, S 294 no 1 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Matthew Polenzani (Tenor), Julius Drake (Piano)
11.
Schwebe, schwebe, blaues Auge, S 305 no 1 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Matthew Polenzani (Tenor), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845-1860 
12.
Im Rhein, im schönen Strome, S 272 no 1 (1st version) by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Matthew Polenzani (Tenor), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1840; Germany 

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