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Hyperion Records

CDA67111/3 - Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 44 – The Early Beethoven Transcriptions
Landscape after a Thunderstorm (c1830) by Joseph Anton Koch (1768-1839)
CDA67111/3

Recording details: May 1996
St Martin's Church, East Woodhay, Berkshire, United Kingdom
Produced by Tryggvi Tryggvason
Engineered by Tryggvi Tryggvason
Release date: April 1997
DISCID: 48105707 670FF907 5A0FB508
Total duration: 204 minutes 11 seconds

'One can only marvel at Leslie Howard's tireless advocacy of Liszt, and the way he constantly overcomes the multitude of technical obstacles in his path' (Gramophone)

'This early Beethoven collection finds Howard on top form. The notes which [he] writes to accompany each issue are erudite, witty, totally enthralling for Lisztians and pianophiles alike' (BBC Record Review)

'Titanic performances. I recommend this presentation to you simply as something which is sine qua non for any connoisseur of outstanding pianism. It has seldom been off my CD player since I received it' (Soundscapes, Australia)

The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 44 – The Early Beethoven Transcriptions
CD1
Allegro con brio  [8'52]
CD2
CD3
Allegretto  [10'02]
Allegro con brio  [9'47]

First to allay fears of any duplication of material with Leslie Howard's previous release of Liszt's transcriptions of the Beethoven symphonies (CDA66671/5): these early transcriptions were made more than twenty years before their revisions, and Liszt's approach was originally even more demanding upon the performer. His earlier thoughts emerge as more dramatic and present many different solutions to the problems of faithfully transcribing great masterpieces. A comparison of the versions is fascinating and revealing, both for our knowledge of Liszt and his art and for the many insights into Beethoven himself which Liszt offers.

The disc also includes the only piano transcription attempted by Beethoven of one of his own symphonies. Not strictly within the remit of this series perhaps, but this miniature is included not only to demonstrate Beethoven's approval for such an endeavour, but also to show exactly how masterful is Liszt's handling of the problems faced—his transcriptions are by far the more faithful!


Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
To the patient listener who is already familiar with the complete canon of the nine Beethoven Symphonies (as transcribed by Liszt and published by Breitkopf in 1865) recorded in Volume 22 of this series, a brief explanation may dispel any alarming feeling that material is being duplicated by the present recordings. These early transcriptions were made more than twenty years before their revisions, at a time when Liszt was very much a public performer and proselytiser for the works, and his general approach, whilst ever faithful to Beethoven, was originally even more demanding upon the performer. So his earlier thoughts emerge as rather more dramatic and present many different solutions to the problems of faithfully transcribing great masterpieces. A comparison of the various versions, as always with Liszt, is fascinating and revealing, both for our knowledge of Liszt and his art and for the many insights into Beethoven himself which Liszt offers.

Symphonies de L. van Beethoven. Partition de piano dédiée à Monsieur Ingres … par F. Liszt is the general title proposed for the first series of transcriptions, published by Richault. The dedicatee of this first series – Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) – is of particular interest to Lisztians because of the famous portrait of Liszt he made in Rome in 1839, at exactly the time when Liszt embarked on the series of Beethoven transcriptions. Liszt wrote to Berlioz about his meeting Ingres and playing chamber music with him – Ingres was apparently an excellent violinist. (The second series of transcriptions was dedicated to Hans von Bülow.) The preface – which was taken over virtually unaltered for the later series – states Liszt’s intention clearly and humbly:

The name of Beethoven is a name sacred in art. Today his symphonies are universally regarded as masterpieces. For anyone with a serious desire for knowledge or the wish to create, there is no meditation upon them nor study of them too profound. Consequently, any and every mode of propagating and popularizing them has its place, and the rather numerous piano arrangements of these symphonies which have already appeared are not without merit, even though for serious study they are mostly of little intrinsic value. Yet even the poorest lithograph or the worst translation gives some idea of the genius of a Michelangelo or a Shakespeare; in the sketchiest piano reduction the half-effaced traces of the master’s inspiration may be detected here and there. But the recent developments in piano design and manufac-ture and the resultant mechanical advantages permit greater and better results than heretofore. With the vast development of its harmonic power the piano tends to take unto itself the entire orchestral repertoire. Within its seven octaves it can pretty well produce all the character, combinations and figurations of the most learned works, and the only advantages it leaves to the orchestra (immense though they be) are the variety of timbre and the effect of numbers.
This has been my aim in the work which I am now publishing. I must say that I should have thought it a rather useless occupation of my time had I but added an umpteenth version of the symphonies in the path trodden hitherto, but I shall consider my time well spent if I have been able to carry over to the piano not just the broad strokes of Beethoven’s compositions, but in addition the multitude of finer lines which contribute so powerfully to the complete wholeness. I shall be satisfied if I have fulfilled the duty of an intelligent engraver, a conscientious translator, who grasps the spirit of a work along with the letter, and who thus helps to spread the understanding of the masters and the appreciation of the beautiful. (Translated by the present writer from the French text)

As we have noted elsewhere, Liszt’s general term for these transcriptions (and several other literal transcriptions of orchestral music) is partition de piano (‘piano score’). His usage of this expression is far more restricted than his application of such terms such as ‘transcription’, ‘fantasy’ or ‘paraphrase’, and, in his words, ‘I wish to indicate my intention to combine the performer’s wit with the effects of the orchestra and to make the different sonorities and nuances felt within the restricted possibilities of the piano’. Most importantly, his intention in these offerings is not to vary or elaborate upon the originals in the bar-for-bar reproduction of them, but to exploit the manner in which the piano might convey the orchestral textures to the fullest.

Liszt began his projected series with transcriptions of the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies. He later expressed his intention to restrict himself to just four works – Symphonies 3, 5, 6 and 7 – as being best suited to transcription, and of greatest immediate benefit to the prospective student of Beethoven’s works. (It should be remembered that scores of the Beethoven symphonies were by no means readily accessible to the average music student in 1839.) In the end, he completed just three of the works – Nos 5, 6 and 7 – but he later made a transcription of just the slow movement of the Eroica.

(Listeners who are already acquainted with Volume 22 of this series are asked to forbear the necessary repetition of some of the background information to these works. As in Volume 22, the temptation so often not resisted – to ‘improve’ Liszt’s transcriptions – has been scrupulously avoided, with the same sole caveat: where there has been a slip of the pen (a very rare occurrence) it has been tacitly corrected, and when the editions known to Liszt of Beethoven’s scores contain errors only brought to light by more recent scholarship, Beethoven’s readings are restored. But no re-transcribing of any kind has been undertaken.)

L. van Beethoven 5me Symphonie par François Liszt

Beethoven’s Fifth. It seems astonishing to us that there can ever have been a time when this most widely known of all symphonies could ever have required any assistance in its dissemination, but any study of the general standards of orchestral performance and repertoire in the early to mid-nineteenth century shows us that only a very few cities were privileged enough to have heard such works given with any degree of accuracy or authority. One shudders to imagine what sort of performance this work might have received almost anywhere at the time when Liszt began his transcription, and orchestras in Rome in 1839 (and for many years to come, for that matter) were not exactly model symphonic ensembles. (The old chestnut about Puccini conceiving the opening motif of La Bohème upon hearing an Italian orchestra rehearsing the beginning of Beethoven’s Fifth probably contains the usual nugget of truth.)

Beethoven’s Symphony No 5 was probably begun hard on the heels of the Eroica, but was postponed during the composition of the Fourth Symphony. The work was completed by early 1808 and was published with a dedication to Prince Lobkowitz and Count Rasumovsky. Liszt probably began his transcription around the end of 1835 and it was complete by mid-1837. It was ready for publication along with the Sixth in 1839, and appeared in 1840. It will be noticed by those who listen with twentieth-century ears to this work – the listening-out for modernisms used to be such an unproductive feature of musicological education in the West! – that Liszt sometimes leaves out the trumpets and drums when they are being used more for reinforcement than for the intrinsic harmonic value of their tones. It has long been recognized that many a dissonance in music around 1800 is caused by the impracticability of either abandoning the trumpets and drums in a passage where they are not always consonant, or of adapting them to be more flexible in their pitch. However, those who lament the absence of the trumpet C in bars 197 and 201 should bear in mind what a false perpective of the harmony is achieved should one play the cluster B flat-C-D flat with the left hand. And the same may be said of the long repeated drum C at the end of the Scherzo which Liszt abandons four bars before the Allegro because that is what the ear does perforce when the rest of the orchestra plays a dominant seventh on G. (Liszt differentiates very clearly with the later passage, at the reminiscence of the Scherzo during the finale, where the intruding tonic pedal is doubled by cellos and basses.)

The transcription of the first movement is slightly more cluttered than the later version in its attempt not to leave out some of Beethoven’s repeated chords (e.g. in the left hand, from bar 37), and in general there are rather more notes here than in the later version. The coda in particular has an extra bass chord and the ending is an octave lower. As in the later version, the main feature of the piece, apart from the necessity to find a sufficient variety of colour for the dogged repetitions of the four-note rhythm, is the sheer amount of leaping from one part of the keyboard to another which is constantly required to be executed without damaging the flow.

Liszt opens the slow movement with crossed hands, partly because the left hand is better shaped to carry the cello melody and partly to prevent the profundity of musical simplicity being lost because of technical ease. Among the many memorable inspirations that Liszt had in trying to preserve as many details as possible the passage in A flat minor (at bar 166) stands out: in order to preserve the theme in two voices the first-violin figuration has to be undertaken by constantly alternating the thumb and index finger of the right hand in a fashion whose tranquillity masks its precariousness. (The writer is indebted to his friend Lucy Hayward for pointing out the derivation – obvious in hindsight! – of this passage from La Folia – apparently Beethoven’s only reference to this much-used theme.)

The Scherzo is transcribed cleanly and clearly, with some clever fingering in order to cope with the wind chords above the melody at the approach to the Trio, which is dominated by unfriendly octaves. The first version of the transcription preserves an early tradition of printing two extra bars (originally for cellos and basses alone) indicating a reprise of the whole of the movement to this point (a practice already adopted by Beethoven in Symphony No 4, and occurring again in Nos 6 and 7). Pierre Boulez is one of the few conductors who have permitted themselves this repeat, and in his hands it seems well worth the possibly controversial reading. With a nod to that maestro, and confident that there is some real textual justification in making it, this repeat is observed in the present performance. The imitation of pizzicato in what becomes the second reprise of the Scherzo is marvellously written, while the mysterious drums at the transition to the finale are helped by being played at the bottom of the range of the piano. In this first version Liszt allows an optional octave doubling of the first-violin melody at the end of the passage.

There are many virtuosic alternative passages in the finale, which deviate somewhat from Beethoven’s text but which certainly compensate for the innate puniness of the piano in the face of the full orchestra – in which Beethoven is now including trombones and piccolo for the first time. At the outset, Liszt offers a filling-out of the left-hand part to account for this increased weight. The present performance declines his alternative reading from bar 58, however, where triplet octaves move rather too far away from Beethoven’s melodic line for comfort. But Liszt’s insistence on Beethoven’s exposition repeat is gladly complied with, as is his inventive main text which replaces Beethoven’s tremolos from bar 290 with octaves con strepito. It is easy, too, to live with Liszt’s reinforcement at a lower octave of the piccolo part at the coda, though rather less easy to execute the piccolo trill and the first violin part with one hand. Liszt’s piano rhetoric is at one with Beethoven’s orchestral rhetoric in the peroration. The major points of difference with the later transcription appear mostly in heavy tutti passages, where Liszt’s original text is usually much bolder in its encompassing of the entire keyboard.

Beethovens Adelaïde für das Pianoforte übertragen von F. Liszt (first version)

At about the same time as the Fifth Symphony transcription was being prepared for engraving, Liszt made his first attempt at a piano transcription of Beethoven’s lyrical song Adelaïde. (The final version is recorded in Volume 15.) Matthisson’s poem of love unfulfilled might have been written with Beethoven himself in mind, so closely does it conform to Beethoven’s life’s experience and his pessimism in matters of the heart: the poet wanders lonely in nature thinking of his unattainable love, consoled only by the thought of the future miraculous bloom upon his grave, bearing his beloved’s name, sprung from the ashes of his heart. In keeping with the generosity of spirit of Beethoven’s piece, Liszt’s sound world is rich and full, the compensation for the absent voice made by enlarging the texture with discreet octave doublings. On this first occasion, Liszt provides just a short, unvirtuosic cadenza to join the Larghetto to the concluding Allegro.

Cadence pour le Concerto Op 37 de Beethoven

So reads the title of the separate publication of Liszt’s cadenza, which also appeared in his splendid edition of the whole concerto arranged for two pianos, in which the soloist divides the purely orchestral passages with his ‘orchestral’ partner. (Liszt made similar versions of the Fourth and Fifth Concertos, but wrote no other cadenzas.) Like Beethoven’s own cadenza to this movement, Liszt’s works runs to 65 bars, but without Beethoven’s extensive flourishes. Liszt’s cadenza remains in common time throughout and is entirely devoid of superficial figuration. Liszt adheres very closely to the original material but allows himself to modulate quite widely: A flat minor, A minor, B flat minor, B minor and C minor are all properly established in the opening sequences until the music settles in D flat major. The second subject is recalled in B major, and steps third-wise through D major and F major before C minor is comfortably restored. (Of course, strictly speaking this is scarcely an ‘early’ transcription of Beethoven but, as this series approaches its end, various programming compromises have to be made in order not to omit anything of importance, nor to leave a ghastly miscellany for a final volume. Apologies are due for the want of continuation into the coda of the movement. Perhaps some domestic experiments with the hi-fi might manage to convey an idea of this cadenza in the context of Beethoven’s work, but a recording of the whole Beethoven concerto for the sake of this cadenza is a luxury beyond the remit of the present project. The fact of the next piece being in C minor will allow for some aural redress, without any implication of subliminal connection between the Eroica and the Third Concerto being intended.)

Marche funèbre de la Sinfonie héroïque de L. van Beethoven. Partition de Piano par F. Liszt

Beethoven composed his Sinfonia Eroica (No 3 in E flat major, Op 55) in 1803 and, after deciding against a dedication to Bonaparte, inscribed it to Prince von Lobkowitz. Liszt transcribed just the second movement in 1841. It appeared in Vienna the following year in a dedicatory volume designed to raise money for the Beethoven monument in Bonn. (Liszt, as we know, was a major contributor to the expense of the sculpting – and the ceremonies surrounding the eventual unveiling – of the monument.) The piece was published separately (without dedication) in 1843 with the title as above, but in the volume and on the first page of the music is given ‘transcrite’ rather than ‘Partition de Piano’. (The volume was beautifully reprinted in Budapest in 1991: Liszt’s piece is first, then follow the Chopin Prélude, Op 45, Czerny’s Nocturne, Op 647, Döhler’s Impromptus fugitifs, Op 39, Henselt’s Wiegenlied (from Op 13), Kalkbrenner’s L’Echo! – Scherzo, Mendelssohn’s Variations sérieuses, Op 54, Moscheles’ Deux Études, Op 98, Taubert’s Fantaisie, Op 54, and Thalberg’s Romance sans paroles, Op 41/3, with multi-coloured title pages and illustrations.) The many small differences between Liszt’s transcription of the single movement and its revision in the later transcription of the whole symphony frequently concern his customary demands in music from his years as a public performer for much broader stretches, especially in the left hand, rendering the first version somewhat more sonorous because of the thicker chordal writing, especially when the bass line is often an octave lower than in the later version.

Symphonie pastorale (first version)

Liszt had a great success with the Sixth Symphony from the beginning. It was probably the first of the Beethoven symphonies that he set himself to transcribe, and he played at least the last three movements at many a public concert. Beethoven completed the work at about the same time as the previous symphony, in 1808. The historical details – and the title-page – of Liszt’s transcription are more or less identical to those for the Fifth Symphony. The greatest problem facing the interpreter of Liszt’s transcription is the preservation of outward peace when the hands are being put through contortions, frequently involving the quiet stretching of elevenths. But that said, the Sixth remains perhaps the most congenial of all of Liszt’s symphonic transcriptions from a pianistic point of view.

In the ‘Awakening of joyful feelings upon arrival in the countryside’ (Liszt gives only French titles in the first version) one revels in the joy of finding all of Beethoven’s textures so faithfully reconceived in such grateful writing. And not a ripple or birdsong is missed in the ‘Scene by the Brook’ – to the extent of some dangerous left-hand stretches simultaneous with combined trills and melodies in the right hand. And tranquil athleticism is the only way to describe the requirements at the recapitulation with its added clarinet and violin arpeggios.

Liszt apparently told Berlioz that he played the second eight bars of the ‘Happy gathering of the country folk’ slightly slower because they represented the old peasants – in contrast with the young peasants at the opening. Few conductors would gamble their reputations upon such a risk in performance, but it seems like an excellent idea to have in mind whilst performing the piece. High points of the transcription include the wonderfully mad bit with the fiddle ostinato, the oboe melody and the artless bassoon – quite a challenge at the keyboard – and the whole 2/4 section which imitates the bagpipe and brings the flute counterpoint into much finer prominence than most orchestral balance usually achieves.

‘The Thunderstorm’ is an inspired piece of virtuoso writing. Just as Beethoven extends the demands on his orchestra in the interest of special effects, so does Liszt mirror them in equivalent pianistic devices, and the relief when the storm subsides is almost tangible in both cases.

Similarly, the ‘Shepherds’ Song. Joyful, thankful feelings after the storm’ finds Liszt at one with Beethoven’s spirit. In the matter of the text there is one serious blip at bar 225 where Liszt has mistakenly mistranscribed the harmony (the mistake carries over unnoticed into both the later editions of the work): he has a simple dominant seventh where he ought to have an F instead of an E. (The F is restored in the present reading.)

There are many differences of varying importance between the first and final versions of this transcription, far too many to detail here, but at least two in the finale deserve pointing out: Liszt’s conscious decision to make a clean final cadence and sacrifice the last falling semiquavers of the basses is only found in the final version; and the problems raised by the transcription of the last full statement of the main theme from bar 133 produced several quite different solutions, althugh this first one is the closest to Beethoven’s score.

Adélaïde de Beethoven transcrite pour le piano par F. Liszt Édition nouvelle et augmentée d’une grande cadence par Mr. F. Liszt

The title says it all, really: the second edition of this transcription follows the first, almost unaltered, up to the end of the Larghetto, but then a vast original meditation upon Beethoven’s song ensues, similar in shape and intent to the optional cadenza in the final version but with some markedly different harmonies. The elaboration of the concluding Allegro is also similar to the first version but towards the end there is a further reminiscence of earlier material with reference to the cadenza, and the coda is extended (rather like Liszt’s first transcription of Schubert’s Ave Maria) by a passage marked ‘religioso’. The beauties of these last additions may permit the overwhelming bulk of them in relation to the original song to be forgiven, but Liszt’s later elimination of them is equally understandable.

Fifth Movement – Symphonie pastorale (second version)

As with the volumes of Schubert transcriptions in this series, an attempt is being made to show as many as possible of the variant readings Liszt offers in the different editions and versions of his Beethoven transcriptions. The Breitkopf edition of the Pastoral Symphony appeared very shortly after the first edition from Richault and, apart from restoring Beethoven’s German titles for the movements, makes only one serious textual alteration: a new, more practical version of the passage in the finale from bar 133. Liszt actually offers two variants: one an ossia which merely simplifies the Richault text, and the other a main text (recorded here) which leaves out one of Beethoven’s lines altogether in an attempt to concentrate on giving an impression of the sheer volume of the original orchestral sound.

Fragment vom Klavierauszug der siebenten Symphonie (Beethoven, transcribed by Beethoven)

Beethoven’s Symphony No 7 was completed in 1812 and dedicated to Landgrave Moritz von Fries. This fragment – all that he managed of his only attempt at a solo piano transcription of one of his own symphonies – was undertaken by early 1815, probably in response to Diabelli’s wish to publish such an arrangement, and was published in facsimile under the present title by Willy Hess in his supplement to the Breitkopf edition of Beethoven’s complete works. It is included here for several reasons: its intrinsic interest; because it is not otherwise recorded; as a testament to Beethoven’s approval of such arrangements in general; and because the juxtaposition of Beethoven’s fragment with Liszt’s first transcription of the same material also convinces the listener of Liszt’s particular genius in the field as well as his superior fidelity to Beethoven in the text itself. Beethoven’s fascinating attempt breaks off towards the end of the Poco sostenuto. (Diabelli took over the task himself and made the first published solo piano transcription of the whole symphony, which was published in England in 1816 – as Beethoven’s Opus 98! Czerny also made an approved piano transcription, but in a version for four hands.)

7me Symphonie en La majeur de L. van Beethoven, oeuv: 92. Partition [de] piano, dédiée à Mr. Ingres … par François Liszt

Liszt made this first transcription of the Seventh Symphony in 1838, and it was published in 1843 by Richault. If the second version of the transcription remains one of the most difficult of Liszt’s transcriptions, the first version is even more treacherous: Liszt cannot bear to omit any possibly precious detail of the score.

The mighty introduction somehow emerges with its full stature, even though many elements have to be transposed up or down an octave in order for all the lines to fit within the mortal compass of the hand. If the spirit of the dance informs Beethoven’s Vivace it becomes quite a high-kicking affair in Liszt’s arrangement where the leap is the predominant step, to such an extent that one often seems to be playing in three different registers of the piano at once, especially in the coda. The myriad differences from the later version are typified by the marvellous recklessness of the writing at the point of recapitulation.

As with so many of the slow movements, Liszt’s version of the Allegretto is a masterpiece of the transcriber’s art. In every variant of the melody after the countermelody has joined in there are at least two disparate things which must be managed by the right hand, whilst everything else must somehow be reached by the left. And although Liszt has to resort to octave transpositions from time to time he does a marvellous job of keeping everything going, even in the treacherous fugato. The earlier version of the coda, with its greater attempt to include all the pizzicato string notes, makes a good first point of comparison with the quite different later version.

Whether or not one attempts the ossia passages, the Scherzo remains a prodigious piece of pyrotechnics – just as it is for the orchestra. These alternatives come at every bar where Beethoven has a trill in the original. Liszt begins the trill and ends with an arpeggiated Nachschlag which spirits the line to the upper octave for each answering bar. The resulting colours are well worth the effort, even though the nine consecutive trills at the end of the Scherzo are not for the faint-hearted. The repeat from bar 148 back to bar 25 is respected by Liszt, if not by many a contemporary conductor. One of the greatest alterations between the two versions of Liszt’s transcription concerns the Trio, which is given very grandly in the first version but approached with a much simpler attitude in the second, even leaving out Beethoven’s octave doublings until the fortissimo shortly before the da capo. Here Liszt gives two solutions to the left hand, and since the passage is immediately repeated, both can be given in succession. In the second version Liszt simply indicates a repeat of the Scherzo and Trio (probably, therefore, without repeats), which is how the movement is given in Volume 22 and stems from the earliest Beethoven source. Clearly, the written-out reprise of the Scherzo and Trio as found in the later editions of the full score was made to accommodate a decision (Beethoven’s, presumably) to reduce the dynamics for much of the Scherzo. In his first transcription Liszt indicates no return at all, but goes straight into the coda version of the Scherzo. In the present performance, Beethoven’s full reprise is given, with Liszt’s main text rather than his trilled ossias given to accentuate the different dynamic level.

The finale, like the first movement, requires a good deal of stamina but manages to convey just the right rumbustious atmosphere. The few proposed simpler alternatives are of so little respite in the face of the general order of things that they are best ignored, as here. A curiosity in the first edition of the Liszt transcription is that the publisher, when printing the main theme at the recapitulation, goes beyond the reprise of the first sixteen bars to add the next sixteen bars as at the beginning. This is clearly an error, and has nothing to do with Beethoven or Liszt. In a few places Liszt specifies ‘ossia più difficile’ passages which are not found in the second version, but which are adopted in this performance.

Fantasie über Motive aus Beethovens Die Ruinen von Athen für Klavier von F. Liszt (first version)

This title appears in the only edition of the work, in the excellent Neue Liszt-Ausgabe, but, as that edition makes clear, the original manuscript contains no page numbers, title, date or signature. The first half of the work is broadly the same as the opening of the later, and much longer, Fantasy published under the present title in 1865 (see Volume 18, ‘Liszt at the Theatre’), and the remainder is really just a single variation in grandiose triplets. The ‘Motive’ of the title is a little misleading, since this version is thus concentrated upon a single number from Beethoven’s original incidental music (Marsch und Chor, Op 113/6).

Marche au Supplice de la Sinfonie fantastique (Episode de la Vie d’un Artiste) de Hector Berlioz transcrite pour le Piano par François Liszt (final version)

As an addendum to this volume we include the final edition of the fourth movement of the Symphonie fantastique with its Introduction, the second edition of the Idée fixe. The introduction is really an original nocturne by Liszt. It is based upon the theme which informs the whole of Berlioz’s symphony, as well as its sequel, Lélio, and was first issued in 1846 (although some sources suggest that there may have been an earlier, untraced version from 1833), but its final form is much simpler in shape and texture (see Volume 5, ‘Berlioz, Chopin and Saint-Saëns Transcriptions’). Strangely, Liszt changes the tonality from the A major of the first published version to B major in the present case – neither key being an obvious choice to introduce a march in G minor. The ‘March to the Scaffold’ itself has rather a complicated history: Liszt transcribed the whole symphony in 1833 and it was published the following year. It was re-engraved with very minor corrections in 1836 and two further (unchanged) editions appeared in Liszt’s lifetime. Meanwhile, the fourth movement appeared separately from the beginning, and was twice reissued before the present revision was made – the manuscript, in the Library of Congress (curiously mis-rendering the title as ‘Marche du supplice’, as some early editions of the single movement did) contains only the altered passages with notes for the engraver referring to the first version. The replacements are mostly made in the interests of clarity, and some wide stretches are removed, and the general effect of the changes is quite similar to that made between the versions of the Beethoven Symphonies. (See Volume 10 for the whole of the Symphonie fantastique.) For some reason, this version has languished virtually unplayed, even though the movement itself has been given often enough as an encore, a tradition which began with Liszt himself.

Leslie Howard © 1997


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Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 6 – Liszt at the Opera I
MP3 £10.00FLAC £10.00ALAC £10.00Buy by post £10.00 CDA66371/2  2CDs Please, someone, buy me …  
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 7 – Harmonies poétiques et religieuses' (CDA66421/2)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 7 – Harmonies poétiques et religieuses
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 8 – Weihnachtsbaum & Via Crucis' (CDA66388)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 8 – Weihnachtsbaum & Via Crucis
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 9 – Sonata, Elegies & Consolations' (CDA66429)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 9 – Sonata, Elegies & Consolations
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 10 – Hexaméron & Symphonie fantastique' (CDA66433)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 10 – Hexaméron & Symphonie fantastique
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 11 – The Late Pieces' (CDA66445)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 11 – The Late Pieces
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 12 – Années de pèlerinage III' (CDA66448)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 12 – Années de pèlerinage III
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 13 – À la Chapelle Sixtine' (CDA66438)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 13 – À la Chapelle Sixtine
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 14 – Christus & St Elisabeth' (CDA66466)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 14 – Christus & St Elisabeth
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 15 – Song Transcriptions' (CDA66481/2)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 15 – Song Transcriptions
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 16 – Bunte Reihe' (CDA66506)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 16 – Bunte Reihe
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 17 – Liszt at the Opera II' (CDA66571/2)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 17 – Liszt at the Opera II
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 18 – Liszt at the Theatre' (CDA66575)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 18 – Liszt at the Theatre
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 19 – Liebesträume & the Songbooks' (CDA66593)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 19 – Liebesträume & the Songbooks
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 20 – Album d'un voyageur' (CDA66601/2)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 20 – Album d'un voyageur
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 21 – Soirées musicales' (CDA66661/2)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 21 – Soirées musicales
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 22 – The Beethoven Symphonies' (CDA66671/5)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 22 – The Beethoven Symphonies
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 23 – Harold in Italy' (CDA66683)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 23 – Harold in Italy
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 24 – Beethoven & Hummel Septets' (CDA66761/2)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 24 – Beethoven & Hummel Septets
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 25 – The Canticle of the Sun' (CDA66694)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 25 – The Canticle of the Sun
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 26 – The Young Liszt' (CDA66771/2)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 26 – The Young Liszt
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 27 – Fantasies, paraphrases and transcriptions of National Songs' (CDA66787)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 27 – Fantasies, paraphrases and transcriptions of National Songs
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 28 – Dances and Marches' (CDA66811/2)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 28 – Dances and Marches
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 29 – Magyar Dalok & Magyar Rapszódiák' (CDA66851/2)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 29 – Magyar Dalok & Magyar Rapszódiák
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 30 – Liszt at the Opera III' (CDA66861/2)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 30 – Liszt at the Opera III
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 31 – The Schubert Transcriptions I' (CDA66951/3)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 31 – The Schubert Transcriptions I
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 32 – The Schubert Transcriptions II' (CDA66954/6)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 32 – The Schubert Transcriptions II
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 33 – The Schubert Transcriptions III' (CDA66957/9)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 33 – The Schubert Transcriptions III
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 34 – Douze Grandes Études' (CDA66973)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 34 – Douze Grandes Études
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 35 – Arabesques' (CDA66984)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 35 – Arabesques
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 36 – Excelsior!' (CDA66995)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 36 – Excelsior!
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 37 – Tanzmomente' (CDA67004)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 37 – Tanzmomente
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 38 – Les Préludes' (CDA67015)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 38 – Les Préludes
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 39 – Première année de pèlerinage' (CDA67026)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 39 – Première année de pèlerinage
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 40 – Gaudeamus igitur' (CDA67034)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 40 – Gaudeamus igitur
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 41 – The Recitations with piano' (CDA67045)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 41 – The Recitations with piano
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 42 – Liszt at the Opera IV' (CDA67101/2)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 42 – Liszt at the Opera IV
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 43 – Deuxième Année de Pèlerinage' (CDA67107)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 43 – Deuxième Année de Pèlerinage
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 45 – Rapsodie espagnole' (CDA67145)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 45 – Rapsodie espagnole
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 46 – Meditations' (CDA67161/2)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 46 – Meditations
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 47 – Litanies de Marie' (CDA67187)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 47 – Litanies de Marie
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 48 – The Complete Paganini Études' (CDA67193)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 48 – The Complete Paganini Études
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 49 – Schubert and Weber Transcriptions' (CDA67203)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 49 – Schubert and Weber Transcriptions
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 50 – Liszt at the Opera V' (CDA67231/2)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 50 – Liszt at the Opera V
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 51 – Paralipomènes' (CDA67233/4)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 51 – Paralipomènes
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 52 – Ungarischer Romanzero' (CDA67235)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 52 – Ungarischer Romanzero
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 53 – Music for piano & orchestra I' (CDA67401/2)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 53 – Music for piano & orchestra I
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 53 – Music for piano & orchestra II' (CDA67403/4)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 53 – Music for piano & orchestra II
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 54 – Liszt at the Opera VI' (CDA67406/7)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 54 – Liszt at the Opera VI
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 55 – Grande Fantaisie' (CDA67408/10)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 55 – Grande Fantaisie
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 56 – Rarities, Curiosities, Album Leaves and Fragments' (CDA67414/7)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 56 – Rarities, Curiosities, Album Leaves and Fragments
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'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 57 – Hungarian Rhapsodies' (CDA67418/9)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 57 – Hungarian Rhapsodies
'Liszt: Piano Music' (LISZT1)
Liszt: Piano Music
MP3 £4.50FLAC £4.50ALAC £4.50 LISZT1  2CDs Super-budget price sampler — Deleted  
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