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Having visited in recent times many new countries, many diverse sites, many places hallowed by history and poetry, having felt that the various aspects of nature and of related scenes did not pass before my eyes as vain images, but that they aroused in my
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Early Liszt Played AuthoritativelyNov. 19 2010
J Scott Morrison
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is the 32nd in the Naxos series of the complete piano works of Franz Liszt. It features the playing of Ashley Wass, a brilliantly talented young British pianist who has recorded quite a lot for the Naxos label, much of it British: e.g. Vaughan Williams: Piano Concerto, William Alwyn: Piano Music 1, Bridge: Piano Music. He does not let us down in this issue. His playing is sensitive, well-shaped and unfailingly musical.
The music here is rather a rare bunch. It features the first volume of Liszt's early Album d'un Voyageur: Impressions et Poésies, S156/R8, written in 1835 when Liszt was 24. Much of it will be familiar to those who know Liszt's later collection, Années de Pélèrinage, Suisse. Indeed, the middle five pieces here -- Le Lac de Wallenstadt; Au bord d'une source; Les Cloches de Genève; Vallée d'Obermann; and La Chapelle de Guillaume Tell -- are the originals for the somewhat altered pieces that were later included in the Swiss Year of Pilgrimage, published in 1855. There are two other pieces in the Voyageur set: Lyon, and Psaume de l'église à Genève. 'Lyon' was inspired by Liszt's sojourn with the Countess d'Agoult in that French city and particularly by his conversations with the philosopher the Abbé Lamennais who talked with him extensively about the plight of weavers in that city. 'Psaume de l'église à Genève' is a chordal setting of a French translation of Psalm 42 ('Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks, so longeth my soul after Thee, o God').
The three 'Apparitions' are from one year earlier, 1834, when Liszt was staying with Lamennais in Brittany and where the main topic of discussion was the need for separation of Church and State. The three pieces are 1) a slow, lyrical, tuneful piece reminiscent of a bel canto aria, 2) a somewhat faster, episodic piece that reminds one of early Schumann, and 3) a 'Fantaisie sur une valse de François Schubert', an alternately dramatic and prayerful piece whose Schubertian source is not clear to me.
This is definitely out-of-the-way Liszt and probably only for those who love his music and want to hear less familiar works. It is beautifully played and recorded.
SublimeJune 30 2014
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Franz Liszt’s first book of his ‘Album d’un voyageur’ contains five pieces (out of seven) which he will publish again ten years later in a revised form in his ‘Années de pélérinage. 1st year. Switzerland’. Only ‘Lyon’ and ‘Psaume de l’église à Genève’ were left out.
In his (as ever) excellent introduction, Keith Anderson notes that ‘Lyon’ was dedicated to the French priest Lamennais, a staunch defender of the division between the Church and the State. Lamennais had been involved in the defense of the striking silk-weavers in Lyon. Their slogan ‘vivre en travaillant ou mourir en combattant’ is reflected in the opening phrases of Liszt’s work. ‘Apparitions’ was composed during Liszt’s stay in Brittany with Lamennais.
In the introduction to his album F. Liszt wrote: ‘I have tried to express in music some of my strongest feelings, my most vivid perception.’ These ‘strongest feelings’ are sublimely generated by the brilliant musical sound of Ashley Wass’ playing. With this album one can compare Liszt’s treatment of the same melodic material at different stages of his life. ‘Album d’un voyageur’ is the first blueprint of his eternal masterpieces, the ‘Années de pélérinage’. Moreover, there are not that many other interpretations of these pieces available: only by L. Howard (on a double CD) and by C. Huvé (difficult to find). A splendid CD for a modest outlay. A must have.