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Hyperion Records

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Death as a Friend (1851) by Alfred Rethel (1816-1859)
Track(s) taken from CDA67403/4
Recording details: July 1998
Budapest Studios of Hungarian Radio, Hungary
Produced by Tryggvi Tryggvason
Engineered by Tryggvi Tryggvason
Release date: November 1998
Total duration: 18 minutes 1 seconds

Totentanz – Phantasie für Pianoforte und Orchester 'De profundis version', S126i
1849; score prepared from manuscript sources by Ferruccio Busoni, 1919

Variation 7  [0'51]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
It is unclear whether this version was completed in 1849, as Busoni suggests, or whether the revisions apparent in the manuscript from which he worked date from 1853 when we know Liszt carried out some intermediate revision on the piece. There are many differences between this Totentanz and the version commonly performed, most of which are immediately obvious to the ear: the introductory gong strokes require no signposts, but the rest of the introduction is, broadly speaking, the same as the final version, except for a number of rhythmic differences, slighter scoring, and an uprushing scale in chromatic chords which later became blind octaves. Variations 1–3 correspond, with minor differences, to Variations I–III of the final version. Variation IV of the later version is not found here, and the Variazione fugata corresponds to the later Variation V, although the scoring is much thinner and there is a cadential passage accompanied by chromatic bass rumblings which was later replaced with a trombone statement of the opening phrase, in tempo, over semiquaver chords from the piano. Then there follows no cadenza, nor the orchestral statement of the second theme with its horns. In the place of what Liszt later called Variation VI—itself a theme and six variations, we have an Alternativo, which corresponds to the first of the later miniature variations, and Variations 4, 5, 6 and 7 which correspond to the second, third, fourth and sixth of the later miniature variations—the fifth of the later variations is new.

The ensuing cadenza in the earlier version is quite different, and leads to a brass chorale in B flat major—‘De Profundis’—a version of exactly the same theme that generated much of the Psaume instrumental. The chorale is repeated by flutes and clarinets before the piano leads the music into B minor (the same shift that it accomplished in the Psaume when the music moved from F major to F sharp minor), and then developed with much fantasy, and through a variety of distantly related harmonies until we stand again on the threshold of the D minor of the main body of the work. The coda of the later version is clearly derived from the Allegro which follows here, and the cadenza resembles the last cadenza in the later version, but beyond that there is no more music in this version which was carried over into the final one. Instead, we are offered a further variation on the second theme, albeit at a much faster tempo. The Dies irae returns and leads to a last cadenza before the final Allegro con fuoco combines the Dies irae and the De Profundis themes to close the work in shattering volumes of sound.

from notes by Leslie Howard © 1998

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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