Liszt’s Dante Symphony is a work of astonishing imagination. His evocation of the ‘Inferno’, the shade of Francesca da Rimini and her sad remembered love is marked by strokes of genius which, with bewildering frequency, pre-empt the mature Wagner (who was, incidentally, the dedicatee of the work). If the second and third movements – the ‘Paradiso’ was wisely commuted to a setting of part of the Magnificat plus a brief Hosanna – don’t quite match the sweep and control of the first, they have their own particular magic. Even so, the work has not acquired the popularity of the Faust Symphony. Barenboim’s new recording with the Berlin Philharmonic is thus particularly welcome. Not only does it augment the number of available recordings to four, it is also the most polished. Even performing ‘live’, the Berlin Philharmonic turns in a performance of near-perfection – the solo lines are a particular joy.
A tuba playing jazz musician might have the right to describe his sound as unique – after all, tuba soloists in jazz are as rare as hen’s teeth. But when we describe Norwegian tuba player and composer Daniel Herskedal as unique, we’re not referring to his choice of horn. In the last few years this young musician has proved he has the facility, vision and musicianship to push the boundaries of his instrument, technically and sonically, further than anyone has done so. The result , as demonstrated by his new album ‘Slow Eastbound Train’, is a spellbind- ing and mesmerising sound worthy of a vast international audience.
There’s nothing disastrous about Daniel Pemberton’s fine score. Pemberton’s star has been on the rise for a few years now and it was 2015 that turned out to be his real breakthrough year, with his very impressive (and very different) scores for The Man from UNCLE and Steve Jobs. There’s a bit of the effortless cool of the former heard in Gold but by and large this is another very different affair, a fun action/adventure score that stays refreshingly free of the turgid sounds that tend to dog these things these days.