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|Franz Liszt, James Conlon, Michael Chertock|
Franz Liszt: St. Stanislaus
Liszt finished only the first and fourth scenes of this, his last great work, recorded here for the first time. It is an oratorio about the Martyrdom of Poland's Patron Saint, Bishop Stanislaus, telling the story of his co... more »
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Liszt finished only the first and fourth scenes of this, his last great work, recorded here for the first time. It is an oratorio about the Martyrdom of Poland's Patron Saint, Bishop Stanislaus, telling the story of his conflict with the pitiless King Boleslaw II in 1079. Liszt left an aria for the Bishop's mother, which closes Part One, unorchestrated; it has been reconstructed by musicologist Paul Munson. The work has touches of Gregorian Chant and larger sections of sheer patriotic fervor; 16 minutes is purely orchestral, and Liszt at his best. The hymn "De profundis," with its organ accompaniment, is strangely modern and complex. The performances, by baritone Donnie Ray Albert (as Stanislaus in one scene, the King in the other) is moving and finely intoned; Kristine Jepson is glorious as the Bishop's mother. The other soloists and the entire chorus and orchestra are superb, led with affection, accuracy, and lucidity by James Conlon. This is a major find and a fascinating work. --Robert Levine
Erik North | San Gabriel, CA USA | 08/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Renowned for his symphonic tone poems, Hungarian rhapsodies, and a seemingly endless stream of piano music (including an ultra-popular pair of piano concertos), Franz Liszt is now known to have spent the final twelve years of his life working on the massive oratorio on the life of Poland's patron saint Stanislaus, who was martyred in 1079. Only the first and fourth scenes were ever completed, however. Fortunately for music lovers, conductor James Conlon has resurrected what Liszt seemingly intended to be his "Messiah" for its world premiere recording.
Up until recently, Conlon's conducting career, despite him being a native-born American, has largely been spent in European cities like Paris, Cologne, and Rotterdam, conducting works by relatively unknown composers or relatively unknown works by major composers. But on this Telarc recording, he has the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus, and a distinguished group of vocal soloists to aid him in bringing this heretofore unknown Liszt work into the spotlight. The music, despite it being close to a century and a quarter old, seems almost shockingly modern, and quite massive in scale, even though the recording itself is just slightly under an hour long. The text is in Polish, German, and Latin, and the booklet notes make it easy to follow. This is strongly recommended for those who like to uncover unknown works by giants in Western music history."