“Saskia Giorgini delivers a realization of Harmonies poétiques et religieuses where we are captivated, from beginning to end, by her constantly inspired playing, carried by an emotional fervour.”
Liszt is often seen as a showman, but much of his music reveals his introspective, searching nature. This is demonstrated above all in Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, one of his most ambitious, contemplative, and enigmatic compositions. To Giorgini, “this music is deeply humane and sincere, tender, but also full of the most sorrowful, violent, painful moments that Liszt ever put into music.” Its ten movements constitute a quest for the deeper meaning of human existence, clothed in music of ravishing beauty.
“The rich sound of the Italian-Dutch pianist, winner of the Salzburg Mozart Competition in 2016, contributes to the understanding of this unfairly neglected opus. Composed between 1834 and 1852, it contains ten pieces, certain titles of which refer to the homonymous poetic collection (1830) by Lamartine. The suave Ave Maria (transcription of an 1846 chorale) and the lamenting Andante lagrimoso are striking here with their magnificent interiority, the climate of which makes one think irresistibly of Fauré. L’Hymne de l’enfant on awakening sings with penetrating sweetness, the Pensée des morts, more prophetic and hallucinated than ever, takes on a frightening dimension (Messiaen is not far away!). Composed in 1849 jointly in memory of Chopin and three patriots executed during the revolution which had just torn Hungary apart, the Funérailles never crush us under their weight but sing with infinite poetry, the Cantique d’amour sounds ideally glorious. The spiritual summit is reached with the overwhelming Bénédiction de Dieu in solitude, nourished by the verses of Lamartine: “From where does this faith come to me with which my heart overflows / To me who just now, uncertain, agitated / And on the waves of doubt tossed about with every wind, / Was looking for the good, the truth, in the dreams of the wise / And peace in hearts resounding with storms?”. How Saskia Giorgini plays it with truly divine intimacy! Since the grandiose version signed by François-Frédéric Guy in 2011 (Zig-Zag Territoires), a simple and sensitive vision of this essential masterpiece of the Lisztian piano has been missing. We have it today.”Jean-Yves Clément