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Hyperion Records

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Photograph of Angelika Kirchschlager by Sim Canetty-Clarke (b?)
Track(s) taken from CDA67934
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

'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)

Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher, S293 Third version
First line:
Mon Dieu! J'étais une bergère, quand
composer
1874/4; LW N37
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
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

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