Liszt - Sardanapalo, Mazeppa | Audite AUDITE97764

Liszt - Sardanapalo, Mazeppa

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Label: Audite

Cat No: AUDITE97764

Barcode: 4022143977649

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Release Date: 8th February 2019

Gramophone Editor's Choice



Joyce El-Khoury (soprano)
Airam Hernandez (tenor)
Oleksandr Pushniak (baritone)
Staatskapelle Weimar


Kirill Karabits


Liszt, Franz

Mazeppa: Symphonic poem, S100
Sardanapolo: unfinished opera, S687 (ed & orch. D Trippett)


Joyce El-Khoury (soprano)
Airam Hernandez (tenor)
Oleksandr Pushniak (baritone)
Staatskapelle Weimar


Kirill Karabits


Contrary heroes: the symphonic poem Mazeppa and the opera fragment Sardanapalo performed by Kirill Karabits and the Weimar Staatskapelle. Sardanapalo who prefers wine and concubines to politics and warfare, and Mazeppa, who dies with glory, having endured pain and humiliation: dramatic literary models, impressively set to music by Franz Liszt.

Written at the same time, these works represent Liszt’s ideas striving to unite literature and music, on the one hand modernising Italian opera and on the other advancing towards the symphonic poem in his orchestral writing.

The Sardanapalo manuscript comprises the first act. For 170 years the material lay dormant in the Goethe and Schiller archive in Weimar: it was only in 2017 that David Trippett deciphered, edited and orchestrated the manuscript at the University of Cambridge.

Kirill Karabits conducts the Weimar Staatskapelle: Liszt’s orchestra in the city in which he composed the opera. Audite continues its series of the great Weimar Kapellmeister-composers.

Sardanapalo is absolutely fascinating... An eminent discovery. What a pity Liszt didn’t continue along this path.” - Die Welt

“a brilliant musical achievement” - Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung



This first-ever recording offers a fascinating glimpse of what might have been. Joyce El-Khoury and Airam Hernández are the singers bravely taking on the challenging lead roles and the Staatskapelle Weimar conducted by Kirill Karabits revels in the Gothic excess of Liszt’s only mature operatic score. The tone poem Mazeppa makes a comparably rousing filler.
Financial Times 23 February 2019
The choral singing is consistently strong, the playing terrific, and Karabits conducts with extraordinary passion. Trippett has carefully modelled his orchestration on Liszt’s works of the early 1850s, and it sounds unquestionably authentic when placed beside the exhilarating performance of Mazeppa that forms its companion piece. Throughout there’s a real sense of excitement at the discovery and restoration of a fine work by one of the most inventive of composers. You end up wishing that Liszt had somehow incorporated operatic composition into his extraordinary career, and wondering what the course of musical history might have been if he had.  Tim Ashley
Gramophone February 2019

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