V 32: Liszt Piano Edition - Al
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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.
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.