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on 21 October 2011
And don't get me wrong: this is a revelation. I'm used to some overripe playing, middle of the road tempos and a kind of damp sounding Liszt so you get the impression that all those wise guys who say Liszt couldn't orchestrate are right. They're not if you are able to let the listener hear what happens in the orchestra. This is an enormously detailed recording with a very very fine bass line, growling cellos, penetrating woodwind and (if necessary) howling horns and silky strings. Don't let the `on period instruments' thing confuse you. This is no Mozart or Bach on period instruments, this is played with horns from around 1850/90 etc. and this music is played with gut strings. This Liszt is presented analytical. You'll hear every phrase, every nuance, every color possible. And how great Liszt could do that. Every other Liszt recording I know, even the latest Chandos instalments of his symphonic works, pales besides this new recordings. The orchestra isn't as large as the 100 players you get on most Dante Symphony recordings and you don't get a chorus of 100, but don't' let that fool you. It's for the music' sake again a revelation. And don't think you get an over analysed Liszt without any coherence or structure! It's all there.
Tempos are brisk. The A la chapelle 16, of which I own a recording with the Netherlands Philharmonic orchestra under Hartmut Haenchen is 6 minutes slower than Haselbock's! Barely 15 for Haselbock; 21 the other! The Dante is 4-10 minutes faster than most others. And it serves the music very well! Gone are all the drab associations you could get of Liszt, you haven't got the time anymore to think `come on Franz, get on with your development section, give us a new idea'. The recording is live and lively. It's not a SACD but it's sound picture SACD quality. Very transparent and very deep on the bass. I like that.

Last a word on booklet design. For me it's nightmarish. It's a kind of flip flap card box with a minimum of plastics (good thing!). De booklet folds to the left and the CD to the right. So if reading the booklet you end up with 4 12x12 cm large pieces of connected paper. It's a 65 page booklet with very informative text (and it gives you an idea of Haselbock's and Liszt philosophy on sound) but I get the impression it's so fragile that individual pages can fall out after 2 times of reading. Hope not! Considering this is going to be a 8 or 10 disc feast I don't hope, but I think we will, we get 8-10 times the same design in 8-10 different colors and 8-10 times the same pics of Liszt as a 30 year old.... But don't let this deter you! The music making and this Liszt revelation stays with you for months.
I was thinking: how would Haselbock's orchestra and interpretation of Tristan und Isolde sound?
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