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How do you rate this symphony

  • Horrible

    Votes: 2 12.5%
  • Quite bad

    Votes: 1 6.3%
  • Not so good and not so bad

    Votes: 1 6.3%
  • Good

    Votes: 6 37.5%
  • Very good

    Votes: 2 12.5%
  • Excellent

    Votes: 4 25.0%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Dante Symphony, composed by Franz Liszt, proposes to retrace the journey of Dante (Divine Comedy) through music.

In the video, along with the music, there is the scenic plot of Gustave Doré.

It is basically the soundtrack of the Divine Comedy.

How do you rate this symphony?

0:00 I. Hell
21:50 II. Purgatory
42:28 Paradise

 

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Well, learning of this piece got me to buy it (this being my edition of choice), so there's that. As far as its quality - it's very Liszt, you know? Brassy and big, with pretty good orchestration and some tonal variety. It's very much the same level of quality as, say "Mazeppa," "Tasso: Lamento e Trionfo" or "Les Preludes." If you're in the mood for something bold and theatrical, this will certainly fit the bill. I wouldn't call it especially deep or moving, but I don't always want that. Anyhow, thanks for introducing me to it.
 

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There's no way that the Dante (or the Faust, for that matter) would ever feature in my symphonic top thirty but I enjoy hearing it each time I have a Lisztian binge - I've just embarked on one, as it happens...

And the Dante gets bonus points for that beautiful choral ending which melts me every time. I like Liszt's own arrangement for piano duet, too.
 

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No masterpiece, but a fun listen every now and then. Live performances are rare, but I've been to one; the recordings are better. Like the Faust Symphony, it should be heard by anyone interested in mid 19th C European art, music and literature.
 

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I have the Teldec recording of this underrated work with Daniel Barenboim and the Berlin Philharmonic coupled with Liszt's "Dante "sonata played by Barenboim , an apt coupling . He and the Berliners give the symphony everything it needs to make a. favorable impression on those who are dismissive about it . In short, they play it with total commitment .
I don't know if this recording is still available, chances are it isn't, but it's worth looking for .
 

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I voted Good I like the Solti and the Conlon recording most .
 

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I give Liszt's Dante Symphony a "very good" vote, and that "very good" is closer to "excellent" than to "good".

Some while back I posted my observations on this symphony. Here are those thoughts, again, with just a touch of editing:

I came to this Liszt work with ears more of a literary scholar than a music scholar. I recall reading so many reviews of how awful this symphony was. But I've come to believe that the reviews were written mostly by non-literary types who had never read the Dante Comedia. Liszt, not your "average" composer on any day, was quite a literary maven himself, and this symphony (along with the Dante Sonata) reveals the true depths of the composer's understanding of the Medieval masterpiece.

That first movement is a study in frustration, beautifully orchestrated. I can somewhat imagine a musician's discomfort with the piece, which consists of a series of unresolved cadences. Musically trained ears perhaps desire some sort of tonic resolution. Liszt gives us build up after build up, the music always seemingly leading to the end, the resolving chord, but never achieving it. This Hellish movement captures exactly the dissatisfaction of Dante's Inferno, a place where there is only suffering, darkness, and no ray of hope. Not even, in the symphony, hope of a chord resolution.

Other composers have depicted Dante's Hell in music, but I can't say I know of another work (not even Tchaikovsky's fascinatingly windy Francesca di Rimini) that captures the essential experience of the Inferno as does Liszt's symphony.

The second movement of the work is rather static, by musical considerations. Boring, one might say. But that is, again, exactly the experience of Dante's Purgatorio. If there seems an endless "sameness" and but very, very slight musical gains from episode to episode, one again experiences the Dantean soul of the Purgatorio.

Liszt famously refused to attempt to create a Paradiso movement, opting instead for a choral work he had previously composed to end the symphony. I understand his logic -- that a mere man can not possibly create the wondrous, joyful beauty of God's Heaven. But I wish he would have tried. Not that his symphony ending is so bad. It's not. But Dante attempted to sketch in words the awesome magnificence of Heaven. I wish Liszt, a genius of similar mind, would have chosen to interpret Heaven in his medium, music. He did splendidly, after all, with the Hell and Purgatory parts.

Alas ....
 
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