LISZT SARDANAPOLO: El-Khoury / Hernandez / Pushniak / Staatskapelle Weimar / Karabits (Audite 97.764) *****

The British musicologist David Trippett has done a brilliant job in constructing this performing edition of Sardanapolo, an Italian opera Liszt began writing in 1850 but abandoned two years later. It derives from a draft piano vocal score of the complete 50 minute first act based on Byron's poem about the ancient king who prefers a life of sensuality to war. This exciting recording makes one wish Liszt had completed it. It has grand opera sweep but the opening chorus of concubines (the excellent ladies of the German National Theatre) is like mid-period Verdi. The Lebanese soprano Joyce El-Khoury is magnificent as Sardanapolo's mistress Mirra – maintaining bel canto beauty despite formidable vocal demands – and tenor Airam Hernandez (Sardanapolo) and bass-baritone Oleksandr Pushniak, as the Chaldean soothsayer Beleso, give fine support. Kirill Karabits conducts like a born Lisztian – an impressive Mazeppa opens the disc. Texts and translations available from:
Norman Stinchcombe

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