Liszt

Piano, Fortepiano and Harpsichord Music

Liszt

Postby isokani » Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:02 pm

We seem not to have a thread dedicated to this man -- only his pupils -- so I thought we had better have one.

I am learning the Malediction at the moment, and will play it in a month. I am trying to find out more about this piece. Even basic facts such as its title and date of composition and later discovery are not agreed on.

I have found the following -- a programme note -- on the web, but couldn't find the author. But anyone could point us in the direction of more information, I for one would be very interested and grateful.

Liszt had a particularly difficult time with the concerto genre. In the 1830s he started work on several works for piano and orchestra. Both the E-flat major and the A-major concertos were begun many years before they were completed in the 1850s. But in addition, there was a third piano concerto (also in E-flat) that was rediscovered only in the 1980s, the “instrumental psalm” De profundis that turned up around the same time-and Malédiction, which was discovered in 1915 but is still something of a rarity, known only to die-hard Liszt aficionados.

The world certainly wasn’t ready for this piece when it was first written. It contains chords the likes of which the world had never seen; there are few traces of classical sonata form; abrupt changes occur at every turn. It is a truly “experimental” piece from before that term was coined.

Malédiction is not, properly speaking, the title — the manuscript doesn’t have one. Instead, it is the word Liszt wrote over the opening theme, described by musicologist Derek Watson, for good reason, as “astonishingly bold.” This theme was later re-used in Liszt’s incidental music to Herder’s drama Prometheus Unbound, to portray the curse pronounced on the hero. A later, strongly rhythmic theme bears the inscription orgueil (pride); this motif is heard again in the “Mephisto” movement of the Faust Symphony. A hesitant lyrical motif, interrupted by rests, was marked pleurs-angoisse-songes (tears, fears, dreams), and a fast virtuoso passage portays raillerie (jesting, mocking). After a highly dramatic recitative for the piano, accompanied by intense tremolos, the opening “curse” returns menacingly, only to be brushed aside by a sudden modulation from minor to major and a brilliant dash to the end. The music becomes more and more breathless as the time signature changes from 4/4 to 3/4 to 2/4 to, most unusually, 1/4, moving the downbeats closer and closer to one another. This triumphant ending, in which all the previous turmoil is resolved, was a prototype for the conclusions of many of Liszt’s later symphonic poems.
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Re: Liszt

Postby rob » Fri Oct 29, 2010 2:00 pm

I suppose we'd better have the score then in what will be my favourite thread (NOT)
Liszt S121 Malediction pno+str (solo part)(poor).pdf

Liszt S121 Malediction pno+str fs.pdf

A better scan of the solo part would no doubt be appreciated by Liszt fans! ;)
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Re: Liszt

Postby HullandHellandHalifax » Fri Oct 29, 2010 3:42 pm

rob wrote:I suppose we'd better have the score then in what will be my favourite thread (NOT)
Liszt S121 Malediction pno+str (solo part)(poor).pdf

Liszt S121 Malediction pno+str fs.pdf

A better scan of the solo part would no doubt be appreciated by Liszt fans! ;)

Come out of the closet Rob, admit it you rather secretly admire Liszt and of course i fully endorse that. :evil:
regards
Brian
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Re: Liszt

Postby rob » Fri Oct 29, 2010 4:38 pm

HullandHellandHalifax wrote:
rob wrote:I suppose we'd better have the score then in what will be my favourite thread (NOT)
Liszt S121 Malediction pno+str (solo part)(poor).pdf

Liszt S121 Malediction pno+str fs.pdf

A better scan of the solo part would no doubt be appreciated by Liszt fans! ;)

Come out of the closet Rob, admit it you rather secretly admire Liszt and of course i fully endorse that. :evil:
regards
Brian

Oh admire yes. He was a great composer. That I will not dispute. However, MOST of it is not to my taste.

We could probably agree that some of it is a bit thin in musical invention as opposed to virtuosic invention, and some is just too bombastic even for you - though I hope that works that fall into that category are in the minority.

However I will admit to liking several of the late piano pieces as you know - they seem well in advance of their date and look toward the Vienna of the early 1900s.

So you see my view isn't entirely based on ignorance. I even sang in The Faust Symphony @ RFH a few months ago. Effective stuff, but I really don't want to hear it again.
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Re: Liszt

Postby HullandHellandHalifax » Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:22 pm

Thats fair enough Rob, and I agree with most of what you say, the Faust Symphony is not an easy ride and yes he can be terribly bombastic in a few pieces and yes he certainly threw his lance into the 1900's as did Beethoven in the last few opuses. At other times he is so sublime it is unbelievable, that was Liszt, an enormous package of contradictions, Mephistopheles, Faust and Gretchen he had qualities of all of them, but one I can readily identify with and my introduction to Liszt' s music was the very late piano works which are full of character, En Rêve, Nuages gris, wonderful pieces that were years ahead of their time.
I will go through my Liszt book collection for Jonathan and see if I can find anything about Malediction, I have an LP performance somewhere too, maybe the sleeve notes can help.
regards
Brian
PS The LP I have is a Turnabout production featuring Alfred Brendel and the sleeve notes are stating the same facts printed above in the article found by Jonathan so they won't help in this case, so back to the search.
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Re: Liszt

Postby Op. XXXIX » Fri Oct 29, 2010 8:54 pm

rob wrote: I even sang in The Faust Symphony @ RFH a few months ago. Effective stuff, but I really don't want to hear it again.

And there isn't all that much for the chorus to do... not to mention waiting through two long movements, and most of a third. Was the organ loud enough to be thrilling at the end?

I generally enjoy the Faust Symphony. But if only Liszt had been a better orchestrator...
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Re: Liszt

Postby HullandHellandHalifax » Fri Oct 29, 2010 9:35 pm

Does anyone have the "Anfang einer jugendsonate"S 692b.
Apparently Lina Ramann was in conversation with Liszt about the Sonata and he mentioned a youth effort and played it for her and as far as I know wrote this down. That is the sum total of my knowledge on this piece, so hopefully someone can shed more light on this and hopefully a score.
thanks
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Re: Liszt

Postby Op. XXXIX » Fri Oct 29, 2010 9:56 pm

HullandHellandHalifax wrote:I will go through my Liszt book collection for Jonathan and see if I can find anything about Malediction, I have an LP performance somewhere too, maybe the sleeve notes can help.

Didn't Leslie Howard record it for the Hyperion series? Say what one will about the piano playing -which is admittedly variable- Howard's liner notes are always a goldmine of info.
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Re: Liszt

Postby HullandHellandHalifax » Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:31 pm

back to Malediction.
According to the liner notes to Leslie Howards recording (Complete Music Vol. 53a) this piece really is a mystery, and unfortunately his notes are more about the musical structure than the history of the music which is obviously lost in the mists of time. He dates its genesis to around 1833 but says that it underwent much work over many years. He postulates that Liszt never even heard a performance of it and does question why strings were the only accompaniment. The form is Sonata form though he says Liszt was attempting to push its development further than the conventional pattern. As mentioned there are many thematic similarities to Orage, Mephistopheles mvt. from the Faust Symphony, and the Valse Oubliee No.3.
However in the two piano version arranged by Setrak (which I have) and published by Editions Mario Bois in 1982 claims that Liszt gave the work the title "Pleurs et angoisses" with composition dates of c.1828-1840. In the French introduction he states
"Liszt l'avait intitulée avec une romantique naïveté <<Pleurs et Angoisses>>. C'est l'éditeur qui invente le titre plus impressionant de <<Malediction>>"

It is a fantastically difficult piece and I wish dear isokani the very best of luck
regards
Brian
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Re: Liszt

Postby parag » Sat Oct 30, 2010 9:18 am

In response to Isokani's request...

Here's a reference:

John, Keiths - "Malediction": The Concerto's History, Programme and Some Notes on Harmonic Organization - Journal of the American Liszt Society, 18 (1985) pp. 29-35 (ISSN 0147-4413 and ML 410.L7A68)

Also attached is the relevant page from the Liszt Companion.

Best,
Parag

Malediction from the Liszt Companion (google bks).pdf
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