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SACD Review

Franz Liszt

Organ Works, Volume 2

  • Tu es Petrus, S. 664
  • Ave Maria (Arcadelt), S. 659
  • Evocation à la Chapelle Sixtine, S. 658
  • Fantasy and Fugue for Organ, S. 259 "Ad nos, ad salutarem"
  • Ave verum corpus, S. 44
Michael Schönheit, organ
Dabringhaus & Grimm SACD MDG9061352-6 72m DDD
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The second volume of MD&G's project of the complete organ music by Franz Liszt includes 3 short pieces, namely 'Tu es Petrus' from the 'Christus' oratorio, the 'Ave Maria' von Arcadelt and an arrangement of Mozart's 'Ave Verum'. The rest of the CD is dedicated to two much longer pieces, the substantial 'Evocation à la chapelle sixtime' and the gigantic 'Fantasy and Fugue' on the chorale 'Ad nos, ad salutarem undam'.

The first group, in spite of their brevity, are very attractive pieces, particularly the Mozart arrangement which is a prime example of meditative simplicity. The 'Evocatum' dates from 1862 when Liszt was in Rome and is a sensitive and personal work evoking Allegri's 'Miserere' and once again, Mozart's 'Ave Verum'.

The way the composer alternates these pieces is indeed remarkable as his objective to describe the conquest of God's love over evil and death is strongly portrayed. The 'Fantasy and Fugue' is one of the greatest organ frescoes of the 19th century. Composed in 1850, after Liszt attended the performance of Meyerbeer's 'Le Prophete' in Dresden, it is 36 minutes in length and opens with an air of noble majesty followed by a peaceful adagio full of soothing sounds. Liszt's fertile imagination is very evident in the manner with which he creates a short virtuosic prelude that leads into the fugue; which in reality is only a fugato that introduces a shimmering 'finale' full of radiance and heartfelt expressiveness.

The historic Merseburg Cathedral Organ is a brilliant instrument with a vast tonal variety that makes it perfectly suited for this lofty repertoire. Michael Schönheit renders these pieces the justice they deserve with interpretations of great emotional intensity and concentrated commitment. Worth buying, if only for the 'Fantasy and Fugue'.

Copyright © 2006, Gerald Fenech