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Hyperion Records

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Tree in autumn overlooking a valley by Hans Thoma (1839-1924)
Track(s) taken from CDA66761/2
Recording details: March 1992
Unknown, Unknown
Produced by Tryggvi Tryggvason
Engineered by Tryggvi Tryggvason
Release date: September 1993
Total duration: 42 minutes 14 seconds

Grand Septuor de L. van Beethoven, S465
1799/1800; Grand Septuor; Septet in E flat major, Op 20

Adagio cantabile  [9'09]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The transcription of Beethoven’s popular Septet belongs in character with Liszt’s transcriptions of the Beethoven Symphonies. By the time he came to make his partition de piano of the Septet Liszt had already produced Beethoven’s Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Symphonies for piano solo (in their first versions). His aims in the Septet, although not formally described on this occasion with a statement of intention by way of a preface, are evidently the same: to reproduce faithfully the letter of Beethoven’s text in a manner whereby the colours of the piano can do duty for the original spirit of the instrumental sound. Beethoven’s original piece, one of his early great commercial successes, dates from the same period as his First Symphony, and the writing is very often orchestral. The original scoring (clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello and double bass) allows for a mixture of textures, including concertante passages for the violin and quite a number of contrasted instrumental solos with the rest of the group acting as an accompanying band. Liszt’s approach encompasses everything from the orchestral gravity of the opening to the delicate whimsy of the solos in the variation movement. As if to emphasize the seriousness of the introduction, Liszt lowers the whole first chord by an octave, and he allows Beethoven’s repeated chords before the Allegro to move up through an arpeggio to arrive at a warmer sound for the transition chord. Typical of his efforts to make pianistic sense without violating the original is his inverting of the accompanying viola figure at the beginning of the Allegro; thirds are replaced by sixths, but throughout extraordinary attention is devoted to preserving as many of the original lines as possible, with the customary disregard for the level of pianistic difficulty entailed. As with the transcriptions of the Symphonies, Liszt labels all the important entries with their original instrumentation for those who might not have access to Beethoven’s score. So the opening theme of the slow movement – which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Menuetto of the Opus 31 No 3 Pianoforte Sonata – is marked as being scored for clarinet. The third movement does, of course, derive from the Minuet of the early Pianoforte Sonata Opus 49 No 2, although its rhythm has grown spikier. The theme and variations (five of them, plus coda) turns out to be remarkably pianistic, and Liszt’s simplified alternative passages may be by-passed. The same cannot be said of the Scherzo, where Liszt’s version of what are straightforward repeated notes on the violin turn the piece into a veritable study. (Two wrong notes in the bass at the mid-point of the Trio look like slips of the pen, and have been corrected here to agree with Beethoven’s text.) Liszt gives two versions of the violin cadenza in the finale but, since the alternative one agrees closely to the single-line violin part and the one in the main text is more imaginative with its cascades of first inversion triads, the choice is clear

from notes by Leslie Howard © 1993

Other albums featuring this work
'Liszt: Complete Piano Music' (CDS44501/98)
Liszt: Complete Piano Music
MP3 £160.00FLAC £160.00ALAC £160.00Buy by post £200.00 CDS44501/98  99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)  
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