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Hyperion Records

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Abbey in the Oakwood (1810) by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)
Schloss Charlottenberg, Berlin / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67856
Recording details: June 2010
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, Scotland
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: March 2011
Total duration: 16 minutes 18 seconds

'Volkov shapes all these pieces with what seems perfect understanding of their different shades of gloom or grief, and the playing of the BBC Scottish, helped by Hyperion's first-rate recording, is also perfectly attuned to the light and shade of Liszt's sound-palette. Altogether a revelatory album: this combination of works actually says something new about Liszt's quality as an orchestral composer' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Hopefully the bicentenary of Liszt's birth will bring as wide a range of recordings as those of Chopin and Schumann last year. Certainly there will be few more valuable releases than this collection of late orchestral works, neglected even by the standards of Liszt's music in general … vividly immediate sound further enhances a disc that ought to prove a highlight of 'Liszt year'' (International Record Review)

'The performances are tremendous. Volkov turns out to be a superb Lisztian, alert to the music's anguish and exaltation. The playing is beautifully textured, with a strong sense of technical and emotional limits being broached and sustained throughout. Highly recommended' (The Guardian)

'Ilan Volkov’s sensitively atmospheric performances never overplay their hand, and make one wish this rarely heard music would make it more often in to the concert hall' (The Irish Times)

Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe, S107
composer
1881; symphonic tone poem after the drawing entitled Du berceau jusqu'au cercueil by Mihály Zichy, to whom the work is dedicated

Die Wiege  [5'38]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
During his time at Weimar, Liszt composed twelve symphonic poems which had an incalculable influence over the orchestral music of the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After Liszt left Weimar in 1861 he no longer had an orchestra at his ready command, and that is at least one reason why his orchestral output is much slenderer in his final period. But in 1881 he was working on a thirteenth and final symphonic poem whose subject was From the cradle to the grave—after a drawing by the Hungarian artist Mihály Zichy (1827–1906) depicting three stages of existence: birth; the struggle for being; and death, the cradle of the life to come. Zichy’s original title was Du berceau jusqu’au cercueil [From the cradle to the coffin], which would not have suited Liszt’s philosophical purpose at all. On 27 September 1881, Liszt wrote to the Princess zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, from Bayreuth:

Your correction of the title of my most recent symphonic poem is most judicious—‘du berceau jusqu’à la tombe’, not ‘jusqu’au cercueil’, as Zichy put it. I adopt it with gratitude—actually, the coffin remains just a piece of furniture, while the tomb becomes metaphorical.

The outer sections have much in common with Liszt’s late introspective keyboard works, whilst the strivings of the middle section hark back to the earlier symphonic poems. The first part is very similar to the separately published Wiegenlied for piano solo, and the final part combines themes from the previous two before disappearing in etherium. Unusually, Liszt drafted the whole work for piano, then arranged and amplified it for duet and for orchestra, and transferred later alterations back into the solo version. Liszt dedicated the piece in all its guises to Mihály Zichy.

from notes by Leslie Howard © 2011

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