Liszt: Faust Symphony, Dante Symphony, Beethoven Symphony No.9

Liszt: Faust Symphony, Dante Symphony, Beethoven Symphony No.9
Composer Franz Liszt
Artist Mattia Ometto & Leslie Howard 2 pianos
Format 3 CD
Cat. number 95749
EAN code 5028421957494
Release June 2024

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About this release

The pre-eminent Lisztian of our day returns to Brilliant Classics for a symphonic sequel of transcriptions.

In 2018, Brilliant Classics issued Leslie Howard and Mattia Ometto playing the 12 symphonic poems of Liszt in the composer’s own transcriptions for piano duo (95748). The set won glowing reviews: ‘Not only do Leslie Howard and Mattia Ometto navigate Liszt’s technical challenges with fluency and ease,’ wrote Jed Distler for Classics Today, ‘but they also treat the scores seriously… Howard’s excellent annotations and Brilliant Classics’ budget price further clinch my recommendation for collectors.’

As before, Leslie Howard supplies his own, invaluable insights to accompany this trio of symphonies in Liszt’s transcriptions for piano duo. As with the symphonic poems, Liszt remains utterly faithful to the originals, preserving the spirit and sound of the orchestral scores without compromising the texts and, in the case of Beethoven’s Ninth, being scrupulously attentive to his hero’s great masterpiece. Howard and Ometta observe all of Beethoven’s (and Liszt’s) repeat markings in the Scherzo, presenting the fullest and most authentic text available.

The Faust Symphony has long been recognised as Liszt’s greatest orchestral work, and it ranks with the B minor Piano Sonata and the oratorio Christus as the noblest of his musical achievements. The two-piano version reached its final form by 1863, before Liszt added a short, ethereal passage to the coda of the second movement in 1880, and these bars are added in the present performance.

By its side, the Dante Symphony has often been overlooked and unjustly disparaged. Yet few compossers have depicted hell and damnation as vividly as Liszt (despite the composer’s own deep and optimistic Christian faith) in the opening Inferno movement, and its companion portrait of Purgatory is a wholly original musical conception whose harmonies prefigure many things later familiar from Wagner’s Parsifal or the symphonies of Bruckner.

Rather less familiar is Liszt’s transcription of his Rákóczy March for two pianos and eight hands, for which Howard and Ometto are joined by Leonora Armellini and Igor Roma. Unlike his solo-piano transcription of Beethoven’s Ninth, this piano duo version incorporates all the vocal parts within the instrumental texture.

- This new installment of Liszt’s (1811-1886) Complete Works for piano duet presents the transcription of three towering orchestral works: the Faust Symhony and Dante Symphony, as well as Beethoven’s monumental 9-th symphony.
- The Faust and Dante symphonies count among Liszt’s most original and groundbreaking works, in which he gave evidence of his most personal beliefs and philosophies.
- In the two-piano versions of his own symphonies as well as his extraordinary transcription of Beethoven’s 9th Liszt remains utterly faithful to the originals, while he manages the occasional reconception of the notation to preserve the spirit and sound of the orchestral scores without compromising the texts and, in the case of Beethoven’s 9th, being scrupulously attentive to his hero’s great masterpiece.
- Leslie Howard recorded the complete piano works by Liszt for Hyperion, a singular achievement and a still unparalleled monument. With Italian pianist Mattia Ometto he records Liszt’s complete works for piano duet. Their recording of the 12 Symphonic Poems BC 95748) received rave reviews from the international press. Mattia Ometto is presently engaged in a highly successful recording project of piano works by Nikolai Medtner, the issue with the “Forgotten Melodies” (PCL 10223) received several 5-star reviews.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Franz Liszt: Eine Faust-Symphonie in drei Charakterbildern, S.647: II. Gretchen
  2. Franz Liszt: Eine Faust-Symphonie in drei Charakterbildern, S.647: III. Mephistopheles und Schlußchor
  3. Franz Liszt: Eine Faust-Symphonie in drei Charakterbildern, S.647: IV. Zweiter Schluß

Disk 2

  1. Franz Liszt: Eine Symphonie zu Dantes Divina Commedia, S.648: I. Inferno
  2. Franz Liszt: Eine Symphonie zu Dantes Divina Commedia, S.648: II. Purgatorio —
  3. Franz Liszt: Eine Symphonie zu Dantes Divina Commedia, S.648: III. Magnificat —
  4. Franz Liszt: Eine Symphonie zu Dantes Divina Commedia, S.648: Zweiter Schluß
  5. Franz Liszt: Rákóczi-Marsch, S.652b

Disk 3

  1. Franz Liszt: Beethovens 9te. Sinfonie, Op. 125 für 2 Pianoforte gesetzt von F. Liszt, S.657: I. Allegro ma non troppo un poco maestoso
  2. Franz Liszt: Beethovens 9te. Sinfonie, Op. 125 für 2 Pianoforte gesetzt von F. Liszt, S.657: II. Molto vivace – Presto
  3. Franz Liszt: Beethovens 9te. Sinfonie, Op. 125 für 2 Pianoforte gesetzt von F. Liszt, S.657: III. Adagio molto e cantabile – Andante moderato
  4. Franz Liszt: Beethovens 9te. Sinfonie, Op. 125 für 2 Pianoforte gesetzt von F. Liszt, S.657 :IV. Presto – Allegro ma non troppo – Tempo 1º – Vivace – Tempo 1º – Adagio cantabile – Allegro assai – Tempo 1º Allegro – Allegro assai – Poco Adagio – Tempo 1º – Presto – Recitativo – Allegro – Allegro assai vivace alla Marcia – Andante maestoso – Allegro energico – Allegro ma non tanto – Poco Adagio – Tempo 1º – Poco Adagio – Poco Allegro stringendo il tempo sempre più Allegro – Prestissimo – Maestoso – Prestissimo