Hyperion’s series of complete songs by Franz Liszt features English tenor Allan Clayton in its fifth volume. The settings all date from the Weimar and Paris periods with poems by the holy trinity of Goethe, Heine and Hugo sitting alongside lesser verses by members of Liszt’s aristocratic circle and friends. Liszt often revisited and revised his songs so we hear two very different versions of his famous Goethe song from Egmont, Freudvoll und leidvoll. He declared that his songs “hurl a lance into the future”, so here we find him using the ‘Tristan chord’ in his masterpiece Ich möchte hingehn, ten years before Wagner.

The earlier volumes in the series comprised contributions from American tenor Matthew Polenzani; Austrian soprano Angelika Kirchschlager; Canadian baritone Gerald Finley and US mezzo Sasha Cooke. The superb English pianist Julius Drake appears on all of them. Drake and Clayton have a very strong chemistry. The young tenor has a particularly expressive head voice, which is put to good use at the end of the Heine song Du bist wie eine Blume.

A Glyndebourne favourite, Clayton uses his dramatic skills to great effect in Heine’s take on the Lorelei myth about a beautiful Rhinemaiden luring sailors onto the rocks. The collection contains some of Liszt’s finest songs, including the exquisite Wandrers Nachtlied II, Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh, and ends with the irresistible Liebestraum.

Composer: Liszt
Composition: Songs
Performer: Allan Clayton t, Julius Drake p
Catalogue Number: Hyperion CDA68179