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ALLA BREVE

May 03, 1987|ALLAN ULRICH

LISZT: "A FAUST SYMPHONY." Siegfried Jerusalem, tenor; Chicago Symphony and Chorus conducted by Georg Solti. London 417 399-2 (compact disc). Solti exhibits an uncommonly personal response to his countryman's most ambitious orchestral work, a three-movement portrait gallery inspired by the Goethe epic. This may not be a symphony in a conventional sense--Liszt's use of leading motives predates Wagner's--but the conductor strives hard to impose a unity without succumbing to the potential banality of the material. He finds tenderness in the Gretchen movement, menace for Mephistopheles (Jerusalem's sweet tenor and Chicago's stirring chorus lend noble assistance) and exposes Faust's heroic yearnings with delicacy and compassion. The sound leans to the clinical, but nobody will complain that London contains the 75-minute symphony on a single disc.

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