When he composed his Harmonies poétiques et religieuses in 1847, Franz Liszt derived his ideas from the poetry of Alphonse de Lamartine, one of the earliest French Romantic poets, and the inspiration for another Liszt composition, Les Préludes. For this set of piano pieces, Liszt borrowed titles from four of Lamartine's poems -- Invocation, Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude, Pensée des morts, and Pater noster d'après la Psalmodie de Église -- and quoted lines at the beginning of each number to establish its expressive context. Because these are evocative mood pieces, the poetic connections are perhaps less significant to modern listeners, since Liszt's music has remained popular, while Lamartine has slipped into obscurity, and Harmonies poétiques et religieuses is increasingly recorded as one of Liszt's more accessible keyboard works. Wojciech Waleczek recorded the cycle in September 2018 at the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice, and the performance is controlled and subtle, placing a greater emphasis on the music's introspective character rather than on its more virtuosic aspects. That is not to say that Waleczek has underplayed Liszt's pyrotechnics because there is plenty here to dazzle. Rather, the cumulative effect of Waleczek's interpretation is of a transcendent nature, which is often lost in Liszt's solo piano music.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S172a/R|
Piano piece in E flat major (Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude) (The Blessing of God in Solitude)