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Hyperion Records

CDA66957/9 - Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 33 – The Schubert Transcriptions III
Two Men by the Sea (1817) by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)
CDA66957/9
Recording details: June 1994
St Martin's Church, East Woodhay, Berkshire, United Kingdom
Produced by Tryggvi Tryggvason
Engineered by Tryggvi Tryggvason
Release date: May 1995
Total duration: 223 minutes 49 seconds

'A fascinating anthology' (Gramophone)

'His idiomatic grasp and utter reliability remain as admirable as in earlier instalments. Excellent sonics and informative notes by the performer' (American Record Guide)

'I can think of no more fascinating encounter than that provided by these sets' (Classic CD)

The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 33 – The Schubert Transcriptions III
CD1
Das Wandern  [2'01]
Der Jäger  [0'39]
Die böse Farbe  [2'52]
Wohin?  [3'10]
CD2
Die Stadt  [2'42]
Aufenthalt  [3'31]
Am Meer  [4'46]
Abschied  [5'22]
In der Ferne  [8'29]
Ihr Bild  [2'54]
Liebesbotschaft  [3'05]
Der Atlas  [2'58]
Die Taubenpost  [4'58]
Kriegers Ahnung  [7'15]
CD3
No 3: Mut  [1'37]
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Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
This final 3-CD set of Liszt’s Schubert transcriptions presents the remaining important collection, the Zwölf Lieder, the revised or alternative versions of the transcriptions from the three song cycles, other revised transcriptions, and one further song, Lob der Tränen. The background information to many of the pieces recorded here has already been given upon the occasion of each work’s first appearance in this series, and it is hoped that those good listeners who have ventured to acquaint themselves with this third collection will permit their attention to be drawn to the contents and notes of the two previously-issued volumes, 31 and 32.

The genesis of Liszt’s earlier transcriptions of Schubert Lieder is a major research area in itself, and it is very difficult to be absolutely certain that, when Liszt had a piece issued in different cities by different publishers, he did not permit himself some alteration to the musical text. There is no area more problematic than that of the Zwölf Lieder (‘Twelve Songs’), S558. Before these pieces were collected and issued as a set, quite a few of them had been published, sometimes in different forms, and in collections of some diversity in content and number, depending on the original publisher. Certainly, the earliest publications of Erlkönig, Ave Maria, Frühlingsglaube and Meeresstille differ from those in the set of twelve. These versions are included elsewhere in the present series of nine discs.

As usual, Liszt planned the tonal structure of the set with great care: the pieces are in B flat major, A flat major, E flat major, G minor, C major, F minor/F major, A flat major, D minor, B flat major, E major, C sharp minor/E major, B flat major. The tonal jolts of a tritone occur at the points of greatest unrest in the poetry—Gretchen am Spinnrade and Rastlose Liebe, and, as a resolution after rejection, Ave Maria. Schubert’s original keys are retained with the single exception of the Ständchen von Shakespeare, which Schubert set in C major.

Sei mir gegrüsst (‘I greet thee’, D741) sets Rückert’s touching hymn to the departed loved one, with the melody and accompaniment separated by a major third in such a way that it is often difficult to tell which line is the principal one. Indeed, when Schubert used the material in his great Fantasie for violin and piano (D934) he clearly favoured the accompaniment over the vocal line. Liszt’s arrangement follows Schubert sedulously, with just the discreetest amplification of the texture for variation in the succeeding verses. In Auf dem Wasser zu singen (‘To be sung on the water’, D774) Liszt allows himself more licence. As the poet likens the flight of the soul to the gliding of the boat with increasing intensity of colour through the three verses, so does Liszt take the melody, at first in the tenor, then the alto, and finally the soprano voice, with much drama towards the shimmering conclusion. Du bist die Ruh’ (‘Thou art peace’, D776) is, despite the ecstasy of its climaxes, an extremely still song. Liszt treats with the utmost delicacy the poet’s plea that his lover should come and dispel his pain, setting up a deceptively calm texture with a great deal of hand-crossing. Liszt thinned out the inner parts in just a few places when he revised Erlkönig (‘The Erl King’, D328d) for the present set. This is the most commonly performed of the three versions of this transcription and was intended to be no less a tour de force than Schubert’s own formidable piano part. Although it is really impossible to convey the voices of narrator, father, son and wraith in the same way that the voice of a Peter Dawson could, the general unheeded terror of the child is relentlessly conveyed. Meeresstille (‘Sea Calm’, D216) was also revised for this set by slightly simplifying the shape of the arpeggios which need to show both the stillness of the water and the anxiety of the sailor at the want of a breeze. Liszt’s quiet rumblings in the bass add to the uneasiness of the enforced calm. In Die junge Nonne (‘The Young Nun’, D828) both Schubert and Liszt appreciate that the storm outside is already remote from the nun who prays to be taken up to heaven, and the peaceful bell rings from the very beginning. The transcription is one of Liszt’s finest, and he even makes a modest suggestion of an improvement to the last line of Schubert’s melody, lifting a line from the accompaniment to the top, thus irradiating the final ‘Alleluia’.

As we have already observed, the present version of Frühlingsglaube (‘Spring Faith’, D686c) differs from the earlier edition only insofar as it does not contain an alternative text for the second verse (see Volume 32). The acceptance of inevitability is encompassed in this most tranquil music, with Liszt allowing himself the most unassuming cadenza at the climax. In Gretchen am Spinnrade (‘Gretchen at the spinning-wheel’, D118), the agitated song of a love-struck girl who fears to lose her reason on account of her passion, Liszt develops the accompaniment pattern to a symphonic torrent of notes perhaps in imitation of the effect of a well-sung performance of this song. Ständchen von Shakespeare (‘Serenade by Shakespeare’, D889) is usually so called to distinguish it from that other famous serenade in Schwanengesang. This song is a free translation by Schlegel of Shakespeare’s song ‘Hark, hark! the lark at heaven’s gate sings’ (Cymbeline, Act II, Scene III) with two extra verses by Friedrich Reil. Liszt contents himself with two verses—with the text laid over the music, as was his almost invariable custom with song transcriptions—treating the second as a variation of some virtuosity.

The pity of Rastlose Liebe (‘Restless love’, D138a), both as song and transcription, is that it is so short. But there is no doubt that Schubert perfectly captures the unsettled cry of the poet that love brings pain and joy inextricable one from the other. Liszt adds to the music’s innate recklessness with the trickiest of leaps about the keyboard. Der Wanderer, D489c, was a very important song for Liszt for several reasons: his enthusiasm for all things Schubertian was never greater than for the piano Fantasy which Schubert based upon this song; the poem chimes all too clearly with Liszt’s own inability to find happiness in any one country, in any one relationship; and the fragment of music which Schubert employs to set the words ‘immer wo?’ (‘ever where?’) became a personal musical motto for Liszt the wanderer. It crops up time and again without notice, in his original works or in his transcriptions—a phenomenon worthy of a separate study. When Liszt first transcribed Ave Maria [Ellens dritter Gesang] (‘Ave Maria [Ellen’s Third Song]’, D839)—Schubert’s setting of a poem from Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake—he appended a long and pious coda. For this present revision he expunged it, and although the rest of the text remains just as fulsome and florid as before, Liszt returns to something much closer to Schubert’s original conclusion.

When Liszt reissued the transcriptions of six songs from Die schöne Müllerin—the Müllerlieder—he made rather few changes to his first thoughts: the plan remains that of the earlier versions, but various subtle alterations are effected. In Das Wandern, as in Wohin?, it is only a matter of a chord or an arpeggio sign here and there. In Der Müller und der Bach the opportunity is taken here to present the alternative text of the third verse, which is in fact also present in the earlier version. The actual alterations are otherwise few. In Der Jäger and Die böse Farbe, Liszt simplifies the text in many subtle ways, mostly for the performer’s convenience, and in Ungeduld he has second thoughts about an extra little bit of counterpoint he introduced in the bass line towards the end of the earlier version, and it is now omitted.

The little album-leaf version of Die Nebensonnen turned up recently in Prague. The single page of manuscript is undated, and it has never been published. It consists of just the first paragraph of the Schubert song but unlike the published transcription in the twelve songs from Winterreise is set in Schubert’s original key of A major. Slight divergencies from Schubert’s melody may indicate that Liszt was writing from memory at the time.

The pieces on the second disc of this set present alternative (ossia) texts which were all published together with the main versions already recorded. Liszt used often to have an extra staff or two printed in parallel to the main text of a piano piece, sometimes in smaller type. The alternative suggestions printed thereon serve several different purposes: (1) sometimes the intention is simply to cope with older pianos of shorter compass, and Liszt, like Beethoven before him, finds many an ingenious way of avoiding the listener’s possible discomfiture at sensing that he has run out of keyboard; (2) the question of technical difficulty—from the stretch of the hand (Liszt, especially in the works before 1849, often writes tenths or elevenths, not expecting them to be arpeggiated, and proposes alternatives for smaller hands) to the general level of agility—is met by quite lengthy rearrangements; (3) the compositional dilemma of simply having more than one very plausible version of text where he is loth to make a choice is resolved by passing the dilemma on to the performer; (4) although it is rare, Liszt’s alternative can present a more technically demanding solution.

In the case of the Schwanengesang transcriptions, Liszt had begun to issue the pieces in a form which corresponds to the main text only. As he warmed to his task, he recalled the published pieces and reissued them along with the remaining numbers with alternative passages so many and varied that they sometimes seem to constitute independent new transcriptions. In the present performances, all the alternative texts are employed.

In Die Stadt Liszt writes three kinds of ossia: for reduced keyboard compass, for technical facilitation, and for simply another view of the material, all in all making quite a different piece of it. In Das Fischermädchen he just substitutes two bars of conclusion for the florid extra verse. In Aufenthalt he produces almost a completely new version facilite. The second stanza of Am Meer has its left-hand arpeggios much reduced.

The alternative version of Abschied is identical to the main text until about halfway through, when the added triplets of the concert version are substituted with duplets—much closer to Schubert’s text, in fact. Many of the grander gestures in the transcription of In der Ferne are considerably toned down, especially the arpeggiated decorations; the ossia text of Ständchen virtually creates a third version of the piece, with its new coda, which arrives much sooner (leaving out some of Schubert’s text in the process), no verse in canon on this occasion, and a new, thinner texture throughout.

Ihr Bild remains unchanged except for the omission of an extra ad libitum right-hand accompaniment—a matter of four bars; the second verse of Frühlingssehnsucht is much simplified, and there are several smaller changes elsewhere. Liebesbotschaft changes only for the last stanza where the wide right-hand chords are replaced; but Der Atlas is completely rewritten—where there were triplets, there are now demisemiquaver tremolos, and vice versa, and yet the general effect of the piece is not greatly altered, despite a certain smaller scope.

In Der Doppelgänger the rumbling basses are replaced with stark chords as in the original. In Die Taubenpost the second half of the piece is completely reworked, with triplets replacing semiquavers, and the whole thing being handled more intimately; and in Kriegers Ahnung the frenetic central section is given a completely different and more introspective character. Altogether, the alternative set is a valuable companion to the concert version and serves further to illuminate Liszt’s deep admiration for the original songs and their composer.

The three remaining songs on this disc were also printed with alternative texts: with Die Gestirne, the third of the four Geistliche Lieder, the whole introduction is rewritten for a piano with a short compass, but Liszt takes the opportunity to transcribe the passage in a wholly new way. The main body of the song is unchanged until the last page, where the grandeur is deliberately hushed for two bars which hark back to the texture of the introduction. In the alternative text to the first version of Meeresstille, the bass tremolos and chromatic figures are replaced with simple chords. And in the ossia passages to the first version of Die Forelle, the more virtuosic demands are modified with a completely new solution to the penultimate stanza.

The third disc contains but one piece new to this collection. The rest is all an example of the infinite variety and care with which Liszt carried out his endless process of self-correction and revision. Zwei Lieder: Die Rose, it will be remembered, was the first Schubert song which Liszt transcribed. The reissued version of it has dozens of differences, mostly minor matters of texture, but with a slightly extended version of the cadenza and coda. The new version was published with Liszt’s transcription of Lob der Tränen (‘In praise of tears’, D711b), a sensitive, straightforward arrangement of Schubert’s touching setting of Schlegel’s eulogy to the power of tears to bring renewal and redemption. In Liszt’s version the melody is first presented in the tenor, with the left hand playing alone, rising one octave and then two in the remaining verses.

None of the Liszt catalogues currently available seems to be aware of the existence of a later edition of the Zwölf Lieder (S558) collection of twelve song transcriptions, which was issued by Cranz in about 1879. Half of the pieces remained as they had been in the earlier edition, with very minor matters of presentation altered in some cases but with no change to the musical text, and indeed the Ave Maria was reprinted from the old plates. Usually, when Liszt revised and republished a piece he organised some legend to that effect to be printed on the cover. For some reason this did not happen with the Twelve Songs and it seems from the number of printing errors, and especially from the corrupt state of the published score of Ständchen, that proof-reading was minimal.

In the new version of Du bist die Ruh’ the second part of the song, containing the two climaxes, is recast, with less hand-crossing and a little less grandeur. The final version of Erlkönig makes many minor tidyings-up of technical details, offers some new ossia passages (recorded here) and reworks the coda completely; the final version of Frühlingsglaube extends the cadences at the end of each verse by one bar, and adds a few notes to the cadenza. In Gretchen am Spinnrade Liszt adds a short introduction, abstracted from the middle of the work.

In Ständchen von Shakespeare the first statement is altered in a myriad of tiny details, and the general effect is more fragile and restrained. Liszt clearly made the revisions for this version with a copy of the earlier edition, scissors, paste, extra music paper, pen and coloured crayon—his general way with such revisions. Something has gone awry with the printing after the first four bars of the second verse: the next five bars are retained from the first version, but the replacement of the last four of these comes hot on their heels and is obviously the preferred new text. The extra five bars must go, but one bar must be added (adapted from the earlier text) to conform sequentially with the revised version of the passage which follows. The revision itself continues the more gossamer-like approach to the piece, and the much-curtailed ending is quite ethereal. Here, as in most cases with these works, the whereabouts of any manuscript or Stichvorlage is unknown.

The alterations to Der Wanderer are largely confined, (1) to the end of the opening paragraph, where the left-hand figuration is entirely rewritten; (2) to a new version of the end of the second verse, with dark tremolos in the bass, but on the whole a simpler texture than before; and (3) to the last verse, where all figuration is jettisoned and everything is reduced to the musical bare bones.

Meeresstille is presented for the fourth time in this series, just as it appears in the S558 collection but with the ossia passages which eliminate the left-hand tremolos and chromatic runs.

The intention of the alternative texts provided for five of the songs in Liszt’s Zwölf Lieder [aus] Winterreise may be compared with the principles he employed in the double texts of the Schwanengesang transcriptions, except that here Liszt did not feel the need to offer multiple solutions in all twelve cases. In Die Nebensonnen the recitative in the second verse is rearranged so that the tremolos are pitched above the melody rather than below; in Mut one or two thornier difficulties are smoothed over, and the newly-shaped ending for a contracted keyboard is a happily found idea. The differences in Der Lindenbaum are confined to the last verse where the long trill amidst the right-hand chords is dropped in favour of re-shaping the melody in broad arpeggiated chords.

In the last verse of Das Wirtshaus, tremolos give way to simpler triplets and produce a markedly desolate effect; and in Der stürmische Morgen Liszt’s leaner alternative text in proud bare octaves is somewhat closer to Schubert’s original. Im Dorfe remains unaltered, but since it is framed by two statements of Der stürmische Morgen, as before, it needs must be repeated here.

With what is effectively the seventh different version, it is time for the final encounter with the Marche hongroise, in perhaps its best guise—the so-called «Troisième Édition» with its extensive alternative passages. Here are all the little hints of the old Liszt, happily consorting with his younger, more flamboyant self, in a piece of Schubert that must have haunted him for decades.

This series comes to a close as it began, with music based upon Schubert’s dances for piano, the final version of the sixth of the Soirées de Vienne. This edition can be seen to have profited enormously from the intermediate, unpublished version which Liszt made for Sophie Menter. Once again the youthful freshness remains, but many a passage is extended with a distractedness that brings to mind the elegiacally meditative Valses oubliées of Liszt’s final years.

Leslie Howard © 1995


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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
MP3 £6.00FLAC £6.00ALAC £6.00Buy by post £10.50 CDA67107  Download currently discounted
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 44 – The Early Beethoven Transcriptions' (CDA67111/3)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 44 – The Early Beethoven Transcriptions
MP3 £10.00FLAC £10.00ALAC £10.00Buy by post £26.00 CDA67111/3  3CDs   Download currently discounted
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 45 – Rapsodie espagnole' (CDA67145)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 45 – Rapsodie espagnole
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 46 – Meditations' (CDA67161/2)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 46 – Meditations
MP3 £7.75FLAC £7.75ALAC £7.75Buy by post £27.98 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA67161/2  2CDs Archive Service; also available on CDS44501/98   Download currently discounted
'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
MP3 £6.00FLAC £6.00ALAC £6.00Buy by post £10.50 CDA67187  Download currently discounted
'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
MP3 £6.00FLAC £6.00ALAC £6.00Buy by post £10.50 CDA67203  Download currently discounted
'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
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 51 – Paralipomènes' (CDA67233/4)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 51 – Paralipomènes
MP3 £7.75FLAC £7.75ALAC £7.75Buy by post £20.00 CDA67233/4  2CDs   Download currently discounted
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 52 – Ungarischer Romanzero' (CDA67235)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 52 – Ungarischer Romanzero
MP3 £6.00FLAC £6.00ALAC £6.00Buy by post £10.50 CDA67235  Download currently discounted
'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
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 55 – Grande Fantaisie' (CDA67408/10)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 55 – Grande Fantaisie
MP3 £10.00FLAC £10.00ALAC £10.00Buy by post £26.00 CDA67408/10  3CDs Last few CD copies remaining   Download currently discounted
'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
MP3 £12.00FLAC £12.00ALAC £12.00Buy by post £30.00 CDA67414/7  4CDs for the price of 3 — Last few CD copies remaining   Download currently discounted
'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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