Classical CD Reviews

LISZT: The Works for Cello and Piano = La Lugubre Gondala; 6 Consolations (trans.. Jules de Sweet); Elegie I and Elegie II; Romance oubliee; Valse oubliee, No. 1 (arr. F. Busoni); Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth; Angelus, Priere aux Anges Gardiens (trans. Lothar Windsberger) – Christophe Pantillon, cello/ Marc Pantillon, p. – Cascavelle

The songful character of Franz Liszt emerges in this set of transcriptions for cello and piano, played with sympathetic ardor by the brothers Pantillon.

Published on October 9, 2012

LISZT: The Works for Cello and Piano = La Lugubre Gondala; 6 Consolations (trans.. Jules de Sweet); Elegie I and Elegie II; Romance oubliee; Valse oubliee, No. 1 (arr. F. Busoni); Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth; Angelus, Priere aux Anges Gardiens (trans. Lothar Windsberger) – Christophe Pantillon, cello/ Marc Pantillon, p. – Cascavelle

LISZT: The Works for Cello and Piano = La Lugubre Gondala; 6 Consolations (trans.. Jules de Sweet); Elegie I and Elegie II; Romance oubliee; Valse oubliee, No. 1 (arr. F. Busoni); Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth; Angelus, Priere aux Anges Gardiens (trans. Lothar Windsberger) – Christophe Pantillon, cello/ Marc Pantillon, p. – Cascavelle VEL 3163, 59:00 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

Recorded in Vienna (6-7 August 2011), these Liszt original works and transcriptions for cello and piano testify to the incredibly broad expressive range commanded by Franz Liszt, bridging the Romantic and Modern sensibilities in his unique application of song. The 1885 La Lugubre Gondola opens the program, a darkly chromatic piece with obsessive riffs and gestures that signify the funeral procession for Richard Wagner, who died in Venice in 1883. The expressive playing from cellist Christophe Pantillon captures what he calls “the slightly somber mystic.”

The Six Consolations for piano date 1849-1850, inspired by a set of poems by Saint-Beuve. Cellist Pantillon switches their chronology a bit, placing Nos. 4 and 2 prior to No. 3 in E Major. The No. 2 marked Un poco piu mosso offers a lilting melody that recalls one of Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words.  The most popular, No. 3 in E Major (transposed from the original D-flat Major), bears the marking Leno placido, and it might well have inspired Saint-Saens’ The Swan. The cello’s cantilena finds persuasive accompaniment in the keyboard’s broken chords.  Parallel thirds and sixths in the piano set off the ingratiating cello line in G Major, lovely vocal moment Liszt marks Andantino. The last of the Consolations hearkens back to Schubert, though its own outburst of passion sets it apart as a moody thoughtful work in spite of lyric simplicity.

Liszt’s Elegie (1874) exploits the cello’s darker regions, and the combination of poised drama and lyrical song could be construed for Faure.  A keening anguish haunts this piece. Marc Pantillon’s efforts on the Yamaha make sonorous points, especially clarion with the help of engineer Wolfgang Steininger. The last bars forecast Ravel’s Miroirs. The Zweite Elegie (1877) rings even more introspective, the angular melos a cross between Hugo Wolf and Richard Strauss. Ardently ecstatic, the melody builds to monumental climax, and even its relatively subdued ending shimmers with recalled passion. The Romance oubliee (1880) appears a sweet love song whose setting could pass for Massenet or even the Berlioz we know from Harold in Italy.  Ferruccio Busoni arranged the Valse oubliee (1883) for cello and piano in 1917. The gliding figures and impish color of the piece make a fine bravura vehicle for the les freres Pantillon.

Liszt’s elegy Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth (1843) seems to have been transcribed by the composer in 1883. The music plays as an extended, limpid cantilena that occasionally allows the keyboard its own moments of ardor. The keyboard part at several moments resembles the liquid filigree we know from the Jeux d’Eau a la Villa d’Este. The Angelus derives from Liszt’s Third Year of Pilgrimage (1877), and we can hear a strong bond between Liszt and Franck in this piece’s chromatic lines. Its martial sequences cast an angular hue on the work’s sensibility, a cross between elegy and optimistic declamation.

—Gary Lemco




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