Sym­phonic Po­ems II (Praga Dig­i­tals SACD PRD 250)

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This sec­ond vol­ume of the sym­phonic po­ems of Franz Liszt col­lects per­for­mances by var­i­ous per­form­ers, con­duc­tors and or­ches­tras orig­i­nally recorded be­tween 1958 and 1989 and re­mas­ters them to SACD. The USSR Min­istry of Cul­ture Sym­phony Orches­tra un­der Mark Erm­ler per­forms Liszt’s 1854 Hun­garia with bravado and pas­sion. Even more thrilling is Beecham’s ren­der­ing of Or­pheus (with the Royal Phil­har­monic), reck­oned as the fourth ‘tone poem’ out of twelve that Liszt wrote while in Weimar. Beecham com­pletely un­der­stands the more con­tem­pla­tive nature of this work. No. 5 is un­leashed in a re­vi­sion from 1855, pre­vi­ously in­car­nated from a pro­duc­tion of Jo­hann Got­tfried Herder’s Prometheus Un­bound. Prometheus, the over­ture-now-ti­tled sym­phonic poem is one of the com­poser’s most beloved pieces. This hot­house read­ing by Stanislav Macura and the Prague Ra­dio Sym­phony is close to those of my favourites, Haitink and Solti, and here eas­ily sounds bet­ter than both.

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