An Unusually Low Price for This Mostly OK 2CD Compilation
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 11/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Naxos has recycled this music not only from various of their Liszt CDs but also from an earlier 'Best of Liszt' compilation. But this time it is a 2CD set and the price is even lower than it was first time around.
As for the performances, some are very good and some are, uh, not. By and large the piano performances are excellent. Particular fine are Liszt's transcription of Schubert's 'Die Forelle' ('The Trout') played by Valerie Tryon, William Wolfram's performance of 'Un sospiro' ('A Sigh') and 'Gnomenreigen', and Jenö Jandó's 'Liebestraum No. 3' (that's the most familiar of the three). Jandó also gives us a fine 'Feux follets' and 'Au bord d'une source'. The two movements from the Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 (played by Joseph Banowetz) are excellent.
However, some of the orchestral recordings are poorly performed and recorded. I don't think I've ever heard as bad a performance of 'Les Préludes' (the offending orchestra is the Polish Radio Orchestra, the conductor Michael Halász, both of whom also appear in Liszt's admittedly lame orchestration of his popular Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 and the 'Prometheus' tone poem).
Overall, I will give this a mild recommendation largely because for someone coming to Liszt's music for the first time, these piano performances are quite creditable and some of the orchestral performances are OK (like the accompaniments to the two concerto movements and for the choral finale of Liszt's Faust Symphony).