Thinik 'art song' and chances are the name Schubert comes to mind. However, Franz Liszt's lieder are equally evocative, encapsulating entire moody worlds of love and loss.
This newer release by Hyperion offers a third volume of the nineteenth-century Hungarian composer's complete songs, with each previously recorded set featuring different artists. In this latest disc, acclaimed Canadian bass-baritone Gerald Finley, accompanied by London, U.K.-based pianist Julius Drake, performs 17 works sung in four languages —German, French, Italian and English.
The soloist renowned for his intensely dramatic performances instils pathos into the enigmatic miniatures, including Weimars Toten, which chillingly beckons dead German poets such as Schiller and Goethe to rise from their graves. Another standout is Finley's interpretation of Anfangs Wollt' Ich Fast Verzagen, sung with limpid ease, or the CD's sole English selection, Go Not, Happy Day, based on Tennyson's long poem Maud with its cryptic, mid-air ending. Succinct liner notes, including background information and translations for all songs, are included.
But it is during the more extended Tre sonetti di Petrarca (second version), dated 1864, where Finley's robust tone and fluid phrasing is on full display. And of those three famous songs, his potent rendering of Liszt's intensely chromatic Pace non trovo is a highlight among his many tragic offerings.