The second volume of Gianandrea Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic's survey of Liszt's symphonic poems has perhaps the best coupling of the series because it features Liszt's two best works in the form: Eine Faust Symphonie and Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe (From the Cradle to the Grave). Subtitled "Three character portraits after Goethe," Liszt's largest symphonic poem comes closest of any of them to achieving symphonic scope and scale. Composed long after his other symphonic poems, Liszt's last work in the form comes nearest of any of them to sustaining a cogent thematic-harmonic argument. Italian born conductor Noseda and the BBC's performances are direct, colorful, and as persuasive as possible. The "Faust" Symphony is not as dramatic as Solti's with the Chicago Symphony, as emotional as Bernstein's with the Boston Symphony, or as heroic as Beecham's with the Royal Philharmonic, but it combines all three qualities and adds a generous helping of self-control -- an essential quality in music that tends to spin out of control given the least encouragement. The Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe is deeper, more probing, and perhaps ultimately more exalted than any previous recording. While romantics might say Orpheus and populists might say Les Préludes, Noseda's second volume makes the case for "Faust" and "Cradle to the Grave." Chandos' 2006 digital sound is warm, lush, and luxurious.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Faust Symphony (I & II), for orchestra or soloist, male chorus & orchestra, S. 108 (LW G12)|
|Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe (From the Cradle to the Grave), symphonic poem for orchestra, S. 107 (LW A424)|