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Hyperion Records

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Photograph of Matthew Polenzani by Sim Canetty-Clarke (b?)
Track(s) taken from CDA67782
Recording details: February 2010
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: November 2010
Total duration: 5 minutes 10 seconds

'Polenzani is evidently a tenor of the finest quality: a lyric voice, sweet and ingratiating, with the capacity to ring out excitingly, gloriously easy on high but with a perfectly adequate body to the tone in its middle and lower registers. He is firm and even, pleasingly expressive … he sings with warmth, intelligence and conviction, matching the superb playing of his pianist Julius Drake' (Gramophone)

'Polenzani remains an extraordinarily communicative Lieder singer, possessed of an agile and flexible voice of tremendous versatility. In the most intimate of these settings, as well as in the quasi-operatic ones, Polenzani and Drake create performances that are at once thoughtful, richly atmospheric and never less than compelling … this auspicious inauguration of the series whets the appetite for more' (International Record Review)

'This stupendous disc, issued ahead of the Liszt bicentenary next year, marks the start of Hyperion's survey of his complete songs, still a grey area for many despite past attempts by major artists such as Brigitte Fassbaender and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau to rehabilitate them … as with so much of his music, their difficulty in performance is to be found in their emotional and expressive extremes. The challenges are more than met here, with Polenzani doing things in songs such as Der Fischerknabe or Pace Non Trovo that you never thought were possible for a human voice, while Drake's intensity is total and unswerving' (The Guardian)

Bist du, S277 Second version
First line:
Mild wie ein Lufthauch im Mai
1879; LW N21
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Prince Elim Meshchersky, a poet-prince of Tartar descent (reportedly from one of Genghis Khan’s sons), died at the age of thirty-six in Paris in 1844, the year Liszt first set his poem Bist du to music. The song was subsequently revised for publication in 1879, with a piano introduction typical of late Liszt in its unharmonized, skeletal prefiguration of the song’s initial musical gestures. What follow are declarations that the beloved is as lovely as a moonlit night, pure as a pearl, cold as an Alpine glacier, strong as a rock, clear as the heavens, and so forth, a catalogue of love’s analogies in Nature of the sort that Shakespeare had earlier parodied in his Sonnet 130: ‘My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.’ Liszt’s chordal pulsations for the cosmic realms of light, love, and beauty from which the beloved came are wonderfully rich specimens of this composer’s harmonic language.

from notes by Susan Youens © 2010

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