Liszt / Japan 2011 Program
This program is planned to highlight some of less known Lisztfs compositions. If one thinks about more than 1600 pieces, then one could be only surprised at relatively small number of always the same pieces featured in todayfs concerts, such as Sonata , Mephisto Valse no 1, Hungarian Rhapsodies 2,6 and 12, Rigoletto paraphrase among others.
Grosse Konzertosolo seems to be one of the pieces inspired by classical forms. It looks as if Liszt wished to write a brilliant concertante piece. However, upon some more reflection I am inclined to believe this
Piece is inspired by the brutal crashing of Hungarian Revolution in 1848/49 by Austrian forces, as it was written in the same year. In the very opening phrase it has a hiddengverbunkos cadenceh which Liszt used a lot in his Hungarian Rhapsodies, then later a funeral march, and some splendid battle music. It is a large-scale work, with wonderfully imaginative piano textures. I also believe this work was a predecessor of his great Sonata, because the layout is somewhat similar, as well as some of the themes. It ends in an optimistic, victorious way ( Liszt was hoping Hungary will become independent, which only happened in 20th century).
Pensee des Morts(Thought of the Dead) is one of religious-philosophical Liszt pieces,absolutely unique, extremely audacious for its time, featuring unusual time signatures(7/4 and 5/4), interesting form and mono-thematic transformational compositional technique. It also includes Psalm De Profundis , which Liszt used in a number of compositions such as the first version of the Totentanz. The title is inspired by the famous poem by Alphonse De Lamartine(1790-1869), Pensee des Morts.Here Liszt succeeded in expressing things which seem impossible for music to express.
Heroic March in Hungarian Style is actually the same march which forms a large part of the Symphonic Poem gHungariah. It is written in a gsymphonich piano style, where piano does need to envy the orchestra at all.
Gallop A-minor is a less known sibling of the famous Grand Gallop Chromatique. It is a mixture of brilliant salon music and more daring Hungarian harmonic combinations, prescient of Bartok. It unrelenting rhythmical drive and ostentatious repetitiveness achieves almost a manic frenzy. Technically it is more demanding than Grand Gallop, nevertheless it is effective and attractive concert piece.
A la Chapelle Sixtine is a very little known work, which combines Allegrifs Miserere and Mozartfs Ave Verum Corpus in a very ingenious way, creating an opposition of darkness and light, from the plangent depths of keyboard to its ethereal heights. Miserere was for a long time an official piece of the Pope, who made forbidden its publication. Young Mozart is said to have had it written from memory after only one hearing.
Aida Paraphrase is one of the very last Lisztfs transcriptions. It features two moments from Verdifs opera Aida- La danza Sacra(Sacred dance- invocation of God Ptah , better known as Possente, possente Ftha) , and Final Duet (O terra ,adio). Here Liszt transcends his own virtuosity, creating a score of rare beauty.
Grande Fantasie Niobe is the very piece Liszt used at his gduelh with Sigismond Thalberg in the salon of Christina Belgiojoso, after which the verdict ranh Thalberg is the best pianist in the world and Liszt is the only one(meaning he was more than best- he was unique)h.The piece utilizes two motives from Pacinifs opera Niobe in a series of thematic transformations. Interestingly enough, by his own admission Thalberg said that he would not be able of playing two bars of this composition, because it is so difficult.
Tchernomor March from Ruslan and Ludmila by Glinka was written during one of Lisztfs visits to Russia in 1840fs, and it marks the beginning of his life-long fascination with Russian music. Russians were also fascinated by Liszt, and we can track his influence in a large part of their music, as well as his pianistic influence, which (through Rubinstein brothers, Siloti and a host of his Russian pupils extended till 20th century).