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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67406/7
Recording details: December 1998
Unknown, Unknown
Produced by Tryggvi Tryggvason
Engineered by Tryggvi Tryggvason
Release date: March 1999
Total duration: 16 minutes 15 seconds

'A bombshell selection that promises to hold the listener for hours on end. One almost imagines the fire of Liszt himself at the keyboard. Another jewel in Hyperion's legendary series.' (The Sunday Times)

Réminiscences de "La Scala", S458
composer
1838; prepared from Liszt's manuscript by Leslie Howard
composer
1836/7; Il giuramento and another untraced source

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Liszt and Marie d’Agoult were living in Como, expecting the birth of their second child (Cosima) towards the end of 1837. Liszt went several times to La Scala in Milan during this period and into early 1838 – his life in Italy at this time has been marvellously reported by Luciano Chiapparì – and heard a number of works in performances which were for the most part not good. He said so in print, along with acid remarks about the state of the opera-goers’ understanding and behaviour, begged for a new masterpiece by Rossini – whose opera-composing days were over – and brought down much criticism upon his head (although if one studies the in-house reports of La Scala it is clear that even the management thought much of the 1837/8 season badly composed, produced and performed). However, in order to placate the enraged Milanese, Liszt organized a charity concert at La Scala on 10 September 1838 in which he played the William Tell Overture transcription, and another work entitled Réminiscences de La Scala. It is now clear that the unpublished and untitled manuscript usually described as a fantasy on Italian operatic melodies must be the otherwise missing work. Since, apart from one melody, all its themes come from Il giuramento by Mercadante – a composer whom Liszt praised in his La Scala article, and whose work he generally admired (see also the Soirées italiennes) – and that Il giuramento was triumphantly given on many occasions in 1837 at La Scala (amongst apparent dross by composers immediately forgotten), as well as the manuscript paper being of the kind that Liszt was using in 1838, make it extremely likely that this work must be the La Scala piece. Liszt played the fantasy again in 1840, and some of the revisions in the manuscript may date from then, and the score is fully marked-up for engraving. Yet the work remained unpublished – perhaps because Mercadante’s star waned so rapidly? – a fate which Liszt’s excellent piece does not merit. Three themes come from Il giuramento, a fourth theme (the bouncing E flat section in 6/8) does not, and to date has not been identified. The present writer begs to differ with Dr Hamilton’s suggestion that Liszt may have written it himself; in an overt act of homage to La Scala, one presumes Liszt would have used material recently familiar there. However, since the scores of much of what was given at La Scala at the time in question have not been available for consultation, and those that have do not yield up the tune, the mystery remains for the moment, and need not detract from the innate joys of Liszt’s fantasy. (The writer confesses immediately his ignorance of Odio e amore by Obiols, Gli aragonesi in Napoli by Conti, L’ajo nell’imbarazzo of Donizetti, Le nozze di Figaro by L Ricci (!), La solitaria delle Asturie by Coccia, Torvaldo e Dorliska of Rossini and Chiara di Rosemberg by Ricci, all of which were performed at La Scala whilst Liszt was in the vicinity. One would also like to hunt down I briganti of Mercadante, which was given on 6 November 1837, shortly before Liszt appeared in Milan.)

from notes by Leslie Howard © 1999

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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