Notes and Editorial Reviews
Reviews of some of the original recordings that make up this set.
Fantasia on a Theme from Beethoven's Ruins of Athens, Grande Fantasie symphonique on Themes from Berlioz's Lelio
These are exuberant performances, overflowing with arch character and impish brio. Lortie doesn't merely phrase responsively; he deftly teases and articulates, so that even routine passage-work lifts into scintillant repartee, wittily met by Pehiavanian and The Hague Residentie Orchestra. For salient instance, this is the first time I've heard the young Liszt's hilariously slapdash, formally sprawling Lelio Fantasy actually . . . fantasticated. Leslie Howard's fine, sympathetic go at it with Karl Anton Rickenbacher and the Budapest Symphony (Hyperion CDA67401/2, 22:5), to take perhaps the most challenging comparison, seems literal and earnest after this nuance-rife take, couching coruscating roguery in feathery exquisiteness. Nor do Howard's broader tempos—timing in at 29:44 against Lortie's fleet 24:06—help to put this overlong jeu across. Chez Lortie and Pehiavanian, on the other hand, it is no longer a mere curiosity but a grandly empurpled Byronic narrative. Similar comparisons could be drawn piece by piece, but suffice it to say that in brilliant contrast to the workmanlike note-spinning that too often overtakes such ambitious intégrales, these artists approach music-making as a form of merrymaking, animating everything with irresistible verve. Sound is transparently immediate in a spacious aural frame. Enthusiastically recommended.
Adrian Corleonis, Fanfare [9/2000]
Volume 3 triumphantly concludes Louis Lortie's Chandos cycle of Liszt's works for piano and orchestra. Once again his mastery is as fluent as it is scintillating. Less heartstopping or intense than his finest rivals in the two concertos (Richter and Zimerman, and Argerich in No 1 only) his occasional distance lends enchantment, and his aristocratic brilliance brings a special distinction to pages inviting heaviness and theatricality. Listen to him unbending winsomely at 1.24" in the First Concerto or tossing aside the Allegro vivace with an almost winged bravura, and at 045" in the cadenza from the Second Concerto he shows a poetry and inwardness rarely achieved in such overt showpieces.
He does all that is humanly possible with the Third Concerto, which received its premiere in 1990, yet even he, alive to moments of authentic Lisztian rhetoric, can do little to erase one's sense of music in urgent need of revision. Likewise the Concerto Pathetique, judiciously arranged from a variety of sources, storms and rants with the sort of self-conscious drama that often came too easily to Liszt; never more so than in the allguns-blazing Allegro trionfante conclusion. But again, the performance is exemplary, the recordings of demonstration quality with a sensible rather than spectacular balance, and George Pehlivanian and The Hague Residentie Orchestra prove themselves admirable partners, even when they are hardly maestoso at the start of the First Concerto. Altogether this has been a most distinguished series.
-- Bryce Morrison, Gramophone [5/2002]