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Hyperion Records

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… the cat sprang up to the roof. She seemed to say something to Silver Hoof. Russian Folk Art
Track(s) taken from CDA66388
Recording details: October 1989
St Peter's Church, Petersham, United Kingdom
Produced by Martin Compton
Engineered by Tryggvi Tryggvason
Release date: November 1990
Total duration: 29 minutes 20 seconds

Via Crucis, S504a
composer
1878/9

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The first Station, Jesus is condemned to death, is a rather violent piece, mostly in octaves, and not based on any external source material. The second, Jesus is made to carry his cross, is punctuated by a short phrase of plainsong to the words ‘Ave Crux’, and ends with a passage which depicts slow walking. The third, Jesus falls for the first time, begins with the rough expression of ‘Jesus cadit’ and resolves into the first verse of the plainsong hymn ‘Stabat mater dolorosa’. The fourth, Jesus meets his Blessed mother, has a harmonic language that anticipates Messaien by over half a century. The melody which ends this piece, somehow reminding us of love in the midst of sorrow, will recur at the end of the work. The fifth, Simon the Cyrenian helps Jesus to carry his cross, also brings the solace of affection, and ends with the same music as does the second Station. The sixth, Saint Veronica, adds a short introduction and coda to a harmonization of the famous chorale usually translated as ‘O sacred head sore wounded’, and familiar to us especially from Bach, although actually the original work of Hans Leo Hassler (1564–1612).

Station VII, Jesus falls for the second time, is a slightly altered repetition of Station III, a semitone higher. The eighth Station, The women of Jerusalem, is one of the most idiomatic musical descriptions of weeping in the whole literature. After the first climax is a short monody with an inscription from St Luke: ‘Weep not for me, but for yourselves, and for your children.’ The final bleak marching passage indicates the last part of the road to Calvary. The ninth, Jesus falls a third time, moves the earlier music up another semitone, with minor alterations. The tenth, Jesus is deprived of his clothing, is another original piece with striking chromatic harmony far ahead of its time. Liszt’s remark to himself at the end of the manuscript (‘Durch Mitleid wissend’) comes from the libretto of the as yet unfinished Parsifal, and possibly indicates Liszt’s own awareness of how he discovered his forward-looking musical language through wisdom which came of compassion. There is certainly no question of Wagner’s music being quoted. Station XI, Jesus is nailed to the cross, reiterates the cry ‘Crucifige’ in a phrase of deliberate brutality. The twelfth, Jesus dies on the cross, is an extended piece, with two of the Last Words: ‘Eli, Eli lama Sabacthani?’ and ‘In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum’. A musical meditation on the three-note motif also takes in the last Word: ‘Consummatum est’ and the piece concludes with a harmonization and extension of the chorale O Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid! whose harmony is at once simple and daringly dissonant. Desolate is the only appropriate adjective for the thirteenth Station, Jesus is taken down from the cross—fragments of the ‘Stabat Mater’ and a varied version of the fourth Station trail away into silence. The final Station, Jesus is laid in the tomb, returns to the hymn of the opening procession, continuing from the text ‘Ave crux spes unica’, with a calming rhythmic accompaniment in 3/2 before the most delicate coda upon the melody from the fourth Station and the three-note ‘Cross’ motif bring the work to a close.

from notes by Leslie Howard © 1990

Other albums featuring this work
'Liszt: Complete Piano Music' (CDS44501/98)
Liszt: Complete Piano Music
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