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Franz Liszt Transcriptions

Liszt / Schmitt / Deutsche Radio Philharmonie
Release Date: 11/19/2013 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777472   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz Liszt
Performer:  Christian Schmitt
Conductor:  Martin Haselböck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsche Radio Philharmonie
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mixed 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

LISZT Ad nos, ad salutarem undam Fantasy and Fugue for organ and orchestra (arr. Dupré). Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (orch. Weiner). Orpheus, for organ (trans. Liszt). Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H (orch. Bischof) Martin Haselböck, cond; Christian Schmitt (org); Deutsche RP (Saarbrücken/Kaiserslautern) Read more class="BULLET12"> • CPO 777 472–2 (69:58)

During his Weimar years, Liszt’s friend, the organist Alexander Winterberger, spurred his interest in the organ, prompting the composition of two of his most ambitious works, the Ad nos… Fantasy and Fugue (1850) and the Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H (1855, revised 1870). Thereafter, Liszt experimented, transcribing a number of his own works, including the tone poem Orpheus . The Weinen, Klagen,… variations, composed for piano in 1862, were transcribed for organ the following year. Considering the metamorphoses visited upon them by their composer, the step to orchestral arrangements by other hands was small, if ambitious. Depending on venue and acoustics, the instrument, registrations, and the acumen of engineers, these organ works can come across as towering masterpieces or murky monster-pieces. One of the joys of the orchestral transcriptions is hearing details often covered in cavernous rumble or obscured by distance on the organ standing forth boldly from the orchestra, their intricacies revealed, while their climactic moments acquire major clout and transparency. Weiner’s tilt at Weinen, Klagen,… is indebted to mid-19th-century models, highlighting a Gothic, cobwebby aura clinging to Liszt’s kaleidoscopic variations. Rainer Bischof’s take on the BACH Prelude and Fugue , on the other hand, is brash, brassy, and unabashedly modern in its use of an overloaded wind and percussion contingent (in addition to the cited vibraphone, do I hear a wood block, tubular bells, and a glockenspiel, among other novelties?) to make for metallic brilliance, glittering passage work, and climactic cataclysmics. The Gothic stunner, however, is Marcel Dupré’s arrangement of the Ad nos … Fantasy and Fugue for organ and orchestra, a feat placing what many believe to be Liszt’s greatest single work in company with the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony and Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ and Orchestra.

One expected more of Christian Schmitt, whose recent go at Koechlin’s organ works (CPO 777 512–2, Fanfare 36:4) demonstrated an arresting keenness to that composer’s psychic, haunted atmospherics. His Orpheus is well-paced in the way that one thing leads to another, though having heard performances in which episodes escalate with fraught portent—e.g., Olivier Vernet’s solo rendering, or, as we’re considering transcriptions, his duo with Laurent Cabasso on piano (a six-CD intégrale , Ligia 0104226–11)—Schmitt’s dynamic range and resources of feeling are audibly constricted. The Ad nos … arrangement compels more adventurous playing, but Schmitt is disadvantaged by the recessed capture of the organ in Luxembourg’s Philharmonic Hall which allows orchestral overshadowing. That said, the upshot is still thrilling, magnificent, and magisterial. To the last point, one may feel that, in their orchestral and orchestra/organ garb, one is hearing these works for the first time. Martin Haselböck, himself an organist of exceptional prowess, who has performed the originals many times and recorded them at least twice, leads with a sweep alert to detail and, in the Ad nos … Fantasy and Fugue , manages the organ/orchestra dialogue with potent eloquence, though the recording imbalance becomes distracting in the fugue. The orchestral works come across in immediate, transparent, often walloping sound. Enthusiastically recommended.

FANFARE: Adrian Corleonis
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Works on This Recording

Fantasia and Fugue on "Ad nos salutarem undam" S 624 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Christian Schmitt (Organ)
Conductor:  Martin Haselböck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsche Radio Philharmonie
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1850; Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Philharmonie Luxembourg 
Length: 27 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Prelude "Weinen, Klagen..." (JS Bach) for Piano, S 179 by Franz Liszt
Conductor:  Martin Haselböck
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Emmerich-Smola-Saal, SWR Studio Kaisersl 
Length: 18 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Orpheus for Organ, LW E11 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Christian Schmitt (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1860-1872 
Venue:  Philharmonie Luxembourg 
Length: 10 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Prelude and Fugue for Organ on B-A-C-H (I), S 260i (LW E3/1) by Franz Liszt
Conductor:  Martin Haselböck
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855 
Venue:  Emmerich-Smola-Saal, SWR Studio Kaisersl 
Length: 13 Minutes 17 Secs. 

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