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Scholars will pounce on this release. Volume 53 of Naxos’ Complete Piano Music of Franz Liszt is a classic reminder of a composer whose second and third thoughts were invariably preferable to his first. Refining and clarifying writing that was often prolix and over-elaborate, Liszt was conscious of an urgent need for revision. Yet even in the first version of the ‘Invocation’ there is a notable example of how Liszt’s quasi-symphonic writing altered the boundaries of what was possible for the piano forever. Elsewhere, it is astonishing to note how the rudimentary nature of the first version of the ‘Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude’ would later blossom into one of Liszt’s greatest masterpieces forming, together with ‘Funérailles’, the heart of the Harmonies poétiques et religieuses.

Wojciech Waleczek must have often wished that he had been given the 1853 rather than the 1847 Harmonies, yet his commitment to an often fascinating and complex gestation is admirable.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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