Liszt: The Complete Songs Vol. 1
The start of another Hyperion Lieder series is always cause for celebration. In advance of his bicentenary in 2011, the label turns to a composer whose songs were considered insignificant for well over a century. A regular collaborator with some of Europe's best singers, Liszt used song as a compositional laboratory in which to experiment with 'Zukunftsmusik,' or 'music of the future.' A cosmopolitan artist who traveled prodigiously, he chose song texts written both by great poets and amateurs, the latter often aristocrats from Liszt's glittering social circles. He created songs that changed the very definition of the genre, that are a bridge to such later masters as Wolf and Strauss.
"[Matthew Polenzani] remains ... an extraordinarily communicative Lieder singer, possessed of an agile and flexible voice of tremendous versatility. In the most intimiate of these settings, as well as in the quasi-operatic ones, Polenzani and Drake create performances that are at once thoughtful, richly atmospheric and never less than compelling.”
-Patrick Rucker, International Record Review
“Most of Liszt’s songs are big statements, usually described as virtuoso. But as with so much of his music, their difficulty in performance is to be found in their emotional and expressive extremes. The challenges are more than met here, with Polenzani doing things in songs such as Der Fischerknabe or Pace Non Trovo that you never thought were possible for a human voice, while Drake’s intensity is total and unswerving.”
-Tim Ashley, The Guardian UK