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Track(s) taken from CDA67934

Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher, S293 Third version

First line:
Mon Dieu! J'étais une bergère, quand
1874/4; LW N37
author of text

Angelika Kirchschlager (mezzo-soprano), Julius Drake (piano)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: October 2011
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Simon Kiln
Engineered by Arne Akselberg
Release date: July 2012
Total duration: 7 minutes 37 seconds

Cover artwork: Photograph of Angelika Kirchschlager by Sim Canetty-Clarke (b?)


'Finding a wide palette of colours within her naturally warm mezzo, Kirchschlager is in her element … this recital should open many ears to the richness and variety of Liszt's songs. Recording and presentation are first-class' (Gramophone)

'The more one hears of Liszt's songs, the more one wonders why they have been so rarely performed … Kirchschlager's rich, resonant mezzo finds beauties everywhere on this disc, from heights of drama to intimacies of reflection, and at every turn Drake is with her' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This is a fascinating and rewarding recital, which explores Liszt’s oeuvre from the 1840s to 1870s … the grainy and distinctive timbre of Kirchschlager’s vivid mezzo-soprano is well suited to this highly charged emotional world, and Drake’s playing is eloquently impassioned without sinking to fortissimo ham' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Hyperion's retrospective of Liszt's complete songs [is] one of the most important recording projects of recent years … Kirchschlager is exquisite and intensely dramatic by turns … Drake is outstanding throughout' (The Guardian)

'The high expectations roused by Volume 1 of Hyperion's compete Liszt songs … are more than met with this second instalment … the programme is excellently chosen to showcase Liszt's versatility as a master of Romantic song … Kirchschlager's extraordinary dramatic gifts are displayed in the two longest songs here, Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher and Die drei Zigeuner … rich new levels of meaning are revealed … Kirchschlager and Drake deliver performances that set the beauty and inventiveness of each song in high relief … not to be missed' (International Record Review)
One of Liszt’s most dramatic late songs is his setting of Alexandre Dumas père’s scene Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher, one of many works inspired by Joan of Arc’s hideous death at the age of nineteen. The peasant girl from eastern France whose victories in battle made possible the coronation of Charles VII did not become an official Catholic saint until 1920, but she was a significant figure in European culture long before then (Friedrich Schiller’s play The Maid of Orléans is one example). Liszt had hoped to persuade first Dumas, then Gérard de Nerval, to create a Faust libretto for him, but had to settle for this shorter nugget of dramatic verse on a different subject. His music exists in several different versions, three for voice and piano, beginning in 1846 and concluding three decades later. In this final revision the song begins in slow, agonized uncertainty and then progresses to a beautifully transparent prayer whose invocation of God’s spirit (‘Votre Esprit’) impels one of Liszt’s signature arresting harmonic shifts. We hear flickering flames in the piano and rising passages as she ascends to the funeral pyre, this in turn followed by another tender prayer whose intermittent triplet figures in the left hand foreshadow the clarion trumpet calls to hold the banner of France as she goes to her death. Liszt ends this dramatic scene not with bombast but with music that tells of the saint’s ascension into heaven.

from notes by Susan Youens © 2012

Parmi les mélodies les plus dramatiques de Liszt figure la mise en musique de la scène d’Alexandre Dumas père, Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher, l’une des nombreuses œuvres inspirées par la mort atroce de Jeanne d’Arc, à l’âge de dix-neuf ans. La jeune paysanne de l’Est, dont les victoires militaires permirent le couronnement de Charles VII, ne devint officiellement une sainte catholique qu’en 1920 mais fut, bien avant, une figure marquante de la culture européenne (en atteste la Pucelle d’Orléans, pièce de théâtre de Friedrich Schiller). Liszt avait espéré convaincre Dumas, puis Gérard de Nerval, de lui concocter un livret sur Faust, mais il dut se rabattre sur cette petite pépite de poésie dramatique, et donc changer de sujet. Sa musique existe en plusieurs versions différentes dont trois pour voix et piano, courant sur trois décennies à partir de 1846. Dans cette dernière révision, la mélodie part dans une lente incertitude angoissée avant d’atteindre à une prière merveilleusement transparente, dont l’invocation de l’esprit de Dieu («Votre Esprit») suscite l’une des plus saisissantes transitions harmoniques lisztiennes. On entend les flammes vaciller au piano et des passages ascendants au moment où Jeanne d’Arc monte au bûcher funéraire; s’ensuit une nouvelle prière tendre dont les intermittentes figures en triolets, à la main gauche, annoncent les appels de clairon-trompette qui exhortent Jeanne d’aller à la mort en tenant la bannière de la France—une scène dramatique que Liszt termine non dans la boursouflure mais par une musique qui dit la montée de la sainte au ciel.

extrait des notes rédigées par Susan Youens © 2012
Français: Hypérion

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