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Devotional pieces

David Barela plays Liszt,
reviewed by

DGB    DGB2802

Franz Liszt: Harmonies poétiques et religieuses. David Barela, piano. © 2003 DGB Records

David Barela spent some years at the University of Arizona as an operatic bass before incorporating into his professional activities the results of his piano studies with Ozan Marsh. He also gives concerts as both organist and conductor, and is becoming well known as a composer of music for TV and film.

It is interesting that he should devote his most recent CD to all but one of the ten devotional pieces Liszt assembled between 1845 and 1852 as a cycle on the sequence of poems by Alphonse de Lamartine, whose niece Liszt had unsuccessfully tried to seduce just before his liaison with the dedicatee of these pieces, Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein, began. Lamartine was probably no more than an acquaintance, but Liszt would readily turn any chance meeting with the aristocracy into bosom friendship. His interest in the poems Lamartine had published under the same title in 1830 may have been opportunistic!

Performances of the whole set are rare, perhaps because they are neither extrovert virtuoso pieces nor are they of any great musical interest. The third one, Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude, is played separately, but overall timing prevented Barela including it -- a pity, as others are less interesting. But Barela does a reasonable job on the rest, though they are performances some way off the distinction necessary to persuade a listener of the musical value of the pieces. No 7 of the set, Funérailles, is the most frequently played, and this comes over quite well [listen -- track 6, 0:00-0:59].

Barela now has his own record label, (, another string to an enterprising bow that must ensure him an active life.

Copyright © 2 October 2004 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


Franz Liszt: Harmonies poétiques et religieuses

DGB2802 Stereo NEW RELEASE 72'00" 2003 DGB Records

David Barela, piano

Franz Liszt: Harmonies poétiques et religieuses: Invocation; Ave Maria; Pensée des Morts; Pater Noster; Hymne de l'enfant à son réveil; Funérailles; Miserere d'après Palestrina; Andante Lagrimoso; Cantique d'amour


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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular series of shorter CD reviews