The Petrarca Sonnets are known to all pianists from the Années de pèlerinage: Italie, - what is less known is that they started life as songs. Even allowing for Liszt’s undoubted originality, these songs are so extraordinary that one doubts they have any precedent. In every aspect - the merging of lieder and operatic styles, virtuosic piano accompaniments, and a vocal range rising to a high C sharp! - Liszt’s writing is at the margin of contemporary musical language. The remaining items on this CD include seldom-heard first settings of Victor Hugo and later popular songs including O lieb! and Es muss ein wunderbares sein. Dennis O'Neill is one of the world's leading tenors and a specialist in the works of Verdi. He has enjoyed a long association with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where his many roles have included Rodolfo (La bohème), Duca (Rigoletto), and Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly). O'Neill is also a very busy concert artist and is well known for his performances of Verdi's Requiem which he has televised no less than seven times, and has sung throughout Europe with conductors including Muti, Sir Colin Davis, Sinopoli, Simon Rattle and Sir John Pritchard.