The fourth volume of Franz Liszt: The Sound of Weimar continues Martin Haselböck's survey of Liszt's symphonic poems with the period ensemble, the Orchester Wiener Akademie. Once the exclusive domain for music of the Baroque and Classical eras, the movement for historically informed performance practice has expanded into covering works of the 19th century, and the effort to re-create the sonorities Liszt heard in his performances of the 1850s has driven this series on NCA. Haselböck presents four of Liszt's innovative works, Tasso: Lamento e trionfo, Le Triomphe funèbre du Tasse, Héroïde funèbre, and Die Ideale, and the small orchestra of roughly 40 musicians performing on original instruments gives a reasonable approximation of what these pieces sounded like when they were new: lean in texture, startling in color, and strange in effect, which were all characteristic of Liszt's style at its most original. This music was regarded as avant-garde in his day because of his fresh approach to orchestral writing, especially in the unusual and exposed combinations of instruments, which are vividly rendered in these recordings; the chamber-like transparency is quite different from the thicker, homogenous sectional scoring by conservative composers of the time. Thanks to his experience and expertise in playing Liszt's organ music, Haselböck is authoritative in his direction, and his research reinforces the authenticity of the performances. The reproduction is resonant and spacious, with an extraordinarily wide dynamic range and focused microphone placement.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson