Another triumphant success for director Joseph Swensen and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Under Swensen's powerful command the orchestra gives a fantastically spirited performance: a thoroughly appealing disc
Ivan Fischer’s latest Budapest Festival bull’s-eye realizes the full breadth of Liszt’s vision, focusing to near-perfection Faust’s anguish (starting with the Allegro impetuoso at 2'28''), Gretchen’s tender modulations (try from 3'38'' on track 2) and the cynical thematic transformations that keep Mephistopheles alive and kicking. It is, above all, a profoundly authentic – or should I say authentically ‘lived’ – production, consistently animated (lightning shifts from piano to forte and back again are meticulously gauged), vividly recorded (note the tuba’s presence at 3'06'' into track 1) and with heavily scored tutti passages granted maximum impact…
For me, Fischer’s Faust Symphony is a clear front runner – more spontaneous than Rattle’s, more agile than Bernstein’s and better focused than Sinopoli’s.
Reviewed: Gramophone 4/1998
Franz Liszt composed little chamber music, though the handful of pieces he wrote or arranged for violin and piano represent his enduring interest in that combination, from the Grand Duo concertant (1835/49) to La lugubre gondola (1882-83). This program by violinist Ulf Wallin and pianist Roland Pöntinen offers those pieces and five more selections that demonstrate Liszt's fondness for passionate, long-breathed melodies in the Magyar vein and turbulent accompaniments that allowed for virtuosity. The standout track of this hybrid SACD is the arrangement of the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12 (ca. 1850), which gives a full treatment to those characteristics, and provides Wallin and Pöntinen their most dazzling displays. While the moods of the surrounding pieces are for the most part lyrical and subdued, the performances are compelling and the sound of the recording is close-up and focused, with the presence and clarity of a recital.