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No one knew better than Liszt how to make 19th century opera sing on the piano. His dazzling transcriptions and paraphrases, designed to show off his talents and please the crowd, have become works of art in their own right.

A dollop of old-fashioned showmanship is required to make these concoctions as alluring as the originals, and Lortie has it in spades, an impression underlined by the sonic range of Chandos’ recording.

The most outrageous here is the Valse de l’opéra Faust, an accelerating romp round the Act Two waltz of Gounod’s opera. Lortie also excels in the Rigoletto “concert-paraphrase” (a medley from Verdi’s opera) and extracts from Don Giovanni. The coup de grâce is his Wagner selection, topped by the “Liebestod” from Tristan und Isolde.

Liszt

At the Opera

Louis Lortie

(Chandos)

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