CD Review by Marco del Vaglio in Critica Classica August 22nd, 2019 – “Liszt: Les harmonies de l’esprit”
August 22, 2019

In the life of Franz Liszt (1811-1886), mystical crises alternated with moments in which he followed behavior far from religious values, to which he seemed yearned for as a teenager. This at least until 1865, when he received tonsure and minor orders in the Vatican, also appropriating the title of abbot and focused his production mainly on the sacred repertoire.In previous years, however, he had provided noteworthy musical contributions and, in the context of this repertoire, moved Ingrid Carbone (born in Cosenza), an eclectic figure of pianist and university professor of mathematics, for her debut CD entitled “Les harmonies de l’esprit ”, recently published by Da Vinci Classics.

The disc opens with “Après une lecture du Dante” (Fantasia quasi sonata), which dates back to 1849.It is the longest and most elaborate piece belonging to the second volume of “Les Années de Pèlerinage”, the first of two dedicated to Italy, and refers to the Divina Commedia, describing the different moods of the souls of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise (with a clear predilection of the author for the “infernal” passages).

The second piece, Consolations, six pensées poétiques (1849-1850), is also closely related to literature as it refers to a homonymous collection of poems by the French writer Charles Sainte-Beuve (pseudonym of Joseph Delorme), published in 1830, but there are also those who wanted to see as reference the lyric Une larme, ou Consolation by Alphonse de Lamartine, from the collection Harmonies poétiques et religieuses (used by Liszt in 1847 for a piano cycle with the same title).

We then move on to the famous “Love dream” in B flat major, placed at the end of Liebesträume S. 541, a triptych dated 1850, initially conceived as a brief collection of lieder, using the texts of Ludwig Uhland and Ferdinand Freiligrath, two Germans writers coeval of Liszt. In particular, the translation of the title of this third composition brings with it a great misunderstanding because the “dream” is not the one between two lovers, but consists in the memory of a loved one who no longer exists.

Closure with St. Françoise de Paule marchant sur les flots in E major, second of the Deux Légendes S. 175 (both written in 1863, with the first focusing on the preaching of St. Francis to the birds, in a style that anticipates Messiaen).The piece describes the miracle performed by the saint when he crossed the Strait of Messina by walking on the water, after the boatmen had refused to take him to the opposite shore because he did not have the money to pay for the transfer. Dedicated to his daughter Cosima, he was inspired by a painting by Eduard Jakob von Steinle (an artist belonging to the group of German romantic painters called “Nazarenes”, for their ascetic life and for the long hair that distinguished them), donated to Liszt by princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein.

As for the interpretative side, Ingrid Carbone deals with the different compositions with the precise intention of not exceeding in that virtuosity which, although undoubtedly one of the main peculiarities of the Lisztian production, often ends up blurring the rest, and aims at a whole series of shades, present but often ignored, also the result of in-depth preliminary studies. Moreover, it is no coincidence that the various passages are proposed in chronological order, to witness the evolution of Lisztian thought.

A real shame, therefore, that a recording that is not up to par, in part nullifies the interesting concepts underlying the work of Carbone, since the sonorities of the Bechstein model A-228 piano appear extremely redundant, to the point that only listening at a rather low volume provides, albeit incomplete, an idea of ​​the executive approach.
Lastly, we recall the brief but comprehensive accompanying booklet, edited by the pianist Chiara Bertoglio, another eclectic figure, as it ranges from music to theology, and therefore very suitable for drawing up introductory notes on passages that involve the religious sphere. In conclusion a disc that, beyond the technical problems, brings out a good and well-prepared musician, to whom we hope to continue in the best way a career already full of satisfactions.

Read the review (in italian)>>

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