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Thread: Liszt Choral Works.

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    Senior Member Lisztian's Avatar
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    Default Liszt Choral Works.

    As a dedicated Lisztian I am ashamed to admit that I am not as familiar with his choral works as I should be. For a composer who is known to many as a trashy piano virtuoso, it is surprising to note that he wrote more Choral music than Chopin did piano music...I've started listening to some of it recently on youtube, and I have really liked it. I've been listening to his Psalms, Via Crucis and the mighty Christus Oratorio (which Leslie Howard believes to be Liszt's greatest work in any genre)...there are an abundance of masterpieces there. Are any of you familiar with his choral works? And what do you think of them?
    Last edited by Lisztian; Dec-31-2011 at 21:33.
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    He has this Missa Choralis thing, which is not a masterpiece, but it's still very pleasant (I particularly like the Agnus Dei). There's also the Die Legende Heilegen-something-something that I told you about earlier. Shows a very different side of this "trashy piano virtuoso."

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    Senior Member Lisztian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dodecaplex View Post
    He has this Missa Choralis thing, which is not a masterpiece, but it's still very pleasant (I particularly like the Agnus Dei). There's also the Die Legende Heilegen-something-something that I told you about earlier. Shows a very different side of this "trashy piano virtuoso."
    Thanks for the response. I haven't heard the Missa Choralis, I will definately look into that. I know you told me the Die legende von der heiligen Elisabeth was your favourite work by him, but would you call it a masterpiece? I am yet to hear it as there isn't a recording on youtube and i'm not currently buying many new discs at all. From what i've read the reception of this work has been very mixed...
    Last edited by Lisztian; Dec-31-2011 at 21:43.

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    Senior Member Stargazer's Avatar
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    There's the Dante and Faust Symphonies...while they aren't pure choral works they do have choral movements. These are really the only two that I've listened to in detail, I particularly like the magnificat from the Dante Symphony. There was another really good choral piece of his that I heard many years ago, but its been so long that I honestly can't recall the name of it lol.

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    Senior Member Lisztian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stargazer View Post
    There's the Dante and Faust Symphonies...while they aren't pure choral works they do have choral movements. These are really the only two that I've listened to in detail, I particularly like the magnificat from the Dante Symphony. There was another really good choral piece of his that I heard many years ago, but its been so long that I honestly can't recall the name of it lol.
    Yes I love the Dante and Faust symphonies. Both of them actually contain two of my favourite choral sections of any work...sublime choral parts for sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lisztian View Post
    Thanks for the response. I haven't heard the Missa Choralis, I will definately look into that. I know you told me the Die legende von der heiligen Elisabeth was your favourite work by him, but would you call it a masterpiece? I am yet to hear it as there isn't a recording on youtube and i'm not currently buying many new discs at all. From what i've read the reception of this work has been very mixed...
    No, I wouldn't call it a masterpiece. It's a very enjoyable work though, and for some reason it has grown on me.

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    I´ve got practically all of his vocal works, including two recordings of the great "Christus Oratorio" (Dorati - which is splendid - and Forrai, which I haven´t digged into but which seems to have surprisingly good sound for its age). I also like the austere "Via Crucis", the somewhat melodramatic "Psalm 13" for Barytone, Chorus and Orchestra, where I´ve got another fine Forrai recording. That work has been recorded by Beecham as well.

    It´s been a long time since I heard samples of the other large works (St.Elizabeth Legend, Graner Mass, Missa Choralis, Hungarian Coronation Mass, Szekszard Mass for male chorus) but they didn´t grab me back then; rehearing them might change my opinion.

    Among the smaller works, "Ave Maris Stella" is charming, very much like parts of the "Christus Oratorio", and the "Chor der Engel" (from "Faust") for mixed choir and harp is nice too.

    The ambitious cantata setting of "Prometheus" could need a more modern recording than the old Forrai, and I´d like it without the recitation there ...

    It is also not so well-known that Liszt composed a bouquet of orchestral songs, reworkings of his lieder. There is a Hungaroton digital recording from 1986.
    Last edited by joen_cph; Jan-01-2012 at 17:05.

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    Senior Member Lisztian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joen_cph View Post
    I´ve got practically all of his vocal works, including two recordings of the great "Christus Oratorio" (Dorati - which is splendid - and Forrai, which I haven´t digged into but which seems to have surprisingly good sound for its age). I also like the austere "Via Crucis", the somewhat melodramatic "Psalm 13" for Barytone, Chorus and Orchestra, where I´ve got another fine Forrai recording. That work has been recorded by Beecham as well.

    It´s been a long time since I heard samples of the other large works (St.Elizabeth Legend, Graner Mass, Missa Choralis, Hungarian Coronation Mass, Szekszard Mass for male chorus) but they didn´t grab me back then; rehearing them might change my opinion.

    Among the smaller works, "Ave Maris Stella" is charming, very much like parts of the "Christus Oratorio", and the "Chor der Engel" (from "Faust") for mixed choir and harp is nice too.

    The ambitious cantata setting of "Prometheus" could need a more modern recording than the old Forrai, and I´d like it without the recitation there ...

    It is also not so well-known that Liszt composed a bouquet of orchestral songs, reworkings of his lieder. There is a Hungaroton digital recording from 1986.
    Interesting. Yes I get the impression that Christus is supposed to be the best of his choral works (as I mentioned Leslie Howard thinks it's his best work, and 'far away the greaest oratorio of the Romantic era' which is saying something with such works as Paradise and the Peri, Elijah, L'enfance du Christ, etc), and I love it. Part III has to be one of the best hours or so of music i've ever heard, and the rest is good also. Some people do feel however that it is an uneven and overlong work, depends who you ask. The Psalm XIII and Via Crucis are supposed to be two of his greatest choral works also, and I especially love the Psalm (and the other Psalm's he wrote). Of the other works you mention I believe the reception of them has been mixed, good works but perhaps not necessarily distinguished, although the Graner Mass is supposed to be a terrific work. Prometheus is supposedly a very flawed work. I haven't really heard any of these though.
    Last edited by Lisztian; Jan-01-2012 at 19:23.

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    Senior Member Lisztian's Avatar
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    I must revive this thread, because as i've gotten more into Liszt's choral music, the more pleasantly i've been surprised. I've found Liszt's choral music to be some of his best music, and some of the best choral music in the 19th century.

    Some of my favourites so far are...

    Christus.
    Via Crucis.
    Psalms 23, 137.
    Die heilige Cäcilia.
    Ave Verum Corpus.

    Which are all terrific. Christus has to be one of the greatest works of the 19th century. Via Crucis is another large scale masterpiece and the others are beautiful works on a shorter scale.


    I've heard many others which i've really liked, but most of his choral music I am yet to explore - and I am greatly looking forward to doing so. I've heard a very poor performance (with English texts, rather than German) on youtube of his Psalm XIII, which didn't quite reach me. A friend of mine recently told me though that he considers it to be one of the greatest choral works ever written, so I am optimistically shopping for a better recording. I've heard two movements from his Hungarian Coronation Mass - Credo, and an absolutely glorious Benedictus. I'm greatly looking forward to purchasing that work in its entirety.

    I'll report my findings back here.
    Last edited by Lisztian; Mar-29-2012 at 22:53.
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    Senior Member tgtr0660's Avatar
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    Liszt's coral works, like Schumann's, deserve a total new evaluation and recognition. There are missing masterpieces or semi-masterpieces that even the classical music public seems to ignore. Christus, the Via Crucis, even his Requiem which is not like the cataclysmic ones by Berlioz or the theatrical one by Verdi but still conveys a different kind of message about the relationship of man and god. Liszt was a believer (even a priest really) and his sacred music shows. As far as choral secular music, yes the two symphonies are superb. Liszt in general deserves his rightful place among the top greats of all time.
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    Senior Member Lisztian's Avatar
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    Good post. I've heard the Requiem, and it's certainly a very interesting, 'non Lisztian' work. It didn't quite reach me on first listens, but I also had no notes about the work, which is never a good thing with Liszt. I'm still a ways away from understanding it.
    Last edited by Lisztian; Mar-31-2012 at 15:34.

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    Senior Member Cnote11's Avatar
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    I wasn't even aware he had choral works. I suppose Listz is more than just flashy piano work after all, eh?
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    Senior Member Lisztian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cnote11 View Post
    I wasn't even aware he had choral works. I suppose Listz is more than just flashy piano work after all, eh?
    It's really quite shocking. I first made my acquaintences with the name Liszt when people told me he was a piano composer that wrote very difficult, flashy music that isn't necessarily very good. That too often still seems to be the general idea. It simply isn't true. He was a very well rounded and prolific composer. He wrote solo piano masterpieces (far too many to list here - this was his best genre overall, and he should get a much more fair evaluation here) organ masterpieces (Ad Nos, P&F on BACH), orchestral masterpieces (Faust, Orpheus, From the cradle to the grave - to be very 'politically correct'), choral (Many works mentioned in this thread, but especially Christus and Via Crucis). He also wrote a very respectable amount of very good lieder, some very interesting Melodramas, (limited) chamber music, orchestral songs as Joen mentioned...He was a virtuoso pianist - and that shows in some of his music (sometimes for good, sometimes for bad) but also an absolutely first rate and highly prolific composer.

    Also, I listened to the aforementioned Requiem again today. I found it to be very good indeed!
    Last edited by Lisztian; Apr-01-2012 at 08:52.
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    Senior Member norman bates's Avatar
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    Does anybody knows where i can find his work "Ossa arida"? I was looking on google but i can't find a recording of it...

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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    I've got his 'Szekszard Mass' on LP, my impressions of it a while back HERE. I also have got 'Missa Choralis' but have not listened to it yet. I love the choral endings (with male choir) to the 'Faust' and 'Dante' symphonies, esp. the former.
    Contrasts and Connections in Music

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