Franz Liszt and His World (The Bard Music Festival)

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Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, the site of many of the weekend's events, with its dramatically swooping silver roof. Valentina Lisitsa tackled it here with aplomb. This Liszt, the preening, strutting peacock, is well known and often maligned.

But as promised, the concerts highlighted a lesser-known side of the composer, including works he wrote during a stint as a religious recluse. It's hard to imagine that Liszt, the author of such flamboyant pianistic whirlwinds, also wrote sacred music of simple, unaffected beauty. But long before Liszt opted for the monastery late in life, he had a more serious, contemplative side, demonstrated by the appealing song "Die Lorelei," expressively and elegantly sung by the superb young soprano Nicole Cabell on Friday.

Listeners were also treated to Ms. Cabell's velvety voice in the weekend's final concert, on Sunday, where she sang "Tandis qu'il sommeille" from "La Juive," by Halevy. That concert, "Grand Opera Before Wagner," featured vocal and orchestral excerpts from operas composed in Paris where Liszt lived for many years that inspired his transcriptions and "reminiscences," including Meyerbeer's "Prophete" and "Robert le Diable.

Bard Music Festival examines Schubert’s legacy | Hudson Valley One

Liszt was a socialite and networker who traveled widely. For comparative purposes his works were sandwiched throughout the weekend between those of his contemporaries, including Chopin, Hummel, Czerny, Moscheles and Alkan. Michael Abramovich played Alkan's programmatic piano work "Le Vent," which evokes the wind with chromatic passages and which the composer dedicated to Liszt , with supple finesse on Saturday.

The American Symphony Orchestra, which was in fine form all weekend, performed Liszt's little-known orchestral works and concertos with polished verve on Saturday evening. Liszt developed the symphonic poem, an alternative to the traditional symphonic form.


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Here Mr. Botstein led the orchestra in "Heroide Funebre" and, with visual props, "Die Ideale" and "Hunnenschlacht.

The violinist Alexander Markov played Ernst's one-movement Concerto "Pathetique" in F sharp minor, both flashy and lyrical, with panache. Along the way during the weekend came an entertaining Gypsy-tinged violin and piano duo by Liszt, a humorous Beethoven song and some gloomy Schubert songs.

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There were also plenty of lesser-known works that were uninteresting: unmemorable both for the music and for the performances. The second weekend of the Bard Music Festival…brought them even closer together.


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  6. Two evening concerts by the American Symphony Orchestra offered works so powerful and vital as to render their current neglect inexplicable. Digg This Save to del. I am very happy you let us know you are blogging again. It's exactly as you said, from my excursions up for Berg and Sibelius.

    Franz Liszt and His World – Edited by Christopher H. Gibbs and Dana Gooley

    It's just remarkable what you find out, isn't it? Night After Night Once in a while you get shown the light.

    Home Archives Profile Subscribe. Braxton at Iridium 2, or I don't stand a Ghost of a Trance with you.

    What Makes Franz Liszt Still Important?

    Braxton at Iridium 3, or That haunting refrain. Derek Bailey, Great jazz records, Some thoughts on Symphomania. What are those playlists, anyway?