Three of the thirteen symphonic poems of Liszt are herein inscribed by Michael Halasz between May-June 2005 in the Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, New Zealand. Liszt composed these works 1856-1866, and they embrace the heroic temperament with national and pompous colors. The last two of the pieces, Hungaria (1856) and Heriode funebre (1857), find a kinship with the Berlioz Funeral and Heroic Symphony, Op. 15. The national uprising against the Habsburgs in Hungary in 1848 inspired Hungaria, which opens with a somber march, passes through a lovely violin solo, and finishes with an Allegro trionfante whose tune Brahms used in one of his own Hungarian Dances.
Most curious is the 1866 addendum to Tasso–Lament and Triumph, the Symphonic Poem No. 2 (1849) inspired by a poem of Byron on the life of Torquato Tasso, author of Jerusalem Delivered. In Le Triomphe funebre du Tasse Liszt utilized a Venetian gondolier’s song subjected to modal chromatic harmony to segue into an extended Epilogue of mourning and tormented consolation. The first two works are sectionalized and moody, with Hungaria indulging the cello, viola, and bass line in striking entries. Liszt had planned to write a Revolutionary Symphony, but he completed only the Heroide funebre, which features an intriguing English horn part. We can hear references from the Faust Symphony and the Dante Symphony. In the Heroide funebre we hear hints of La Marseillaise. Often volatile, epic and sumptuously grand in sound, the three tonepoems offer Halasz and his brass section of the New Zealand Symphony ample opportunities to strut their virtuosity, competitive with other symphonic-poem cycles by Masur and Haitink.
— Gary Lemco