The prolific Saverio Mercadante (1795–1870) was a composer of a similar mould to Rossini, although rather fewer of his works have stood the test of time, being not so strong on personality as those of his great compatriot. But occasionally one of the sixty or so operas is given (Liszt wrote a fantasy which included themes from Il giuramento
) and a few instrumental pieces remain on the fringe of the repertoire. With the Soirées italiennes
Liszt was not so generous as he had been with the Rossini collection, which he had transcribed in its entirety. He chose just half of the twelve numbers (on texts by Crescini and Pepoli) that make up Mercadante’s original, and successfully managed to select the pieces which differ as widely as possible from their pretty obvious Rossini models. Unfortunately, Liszt’s transcriptions are somewhat rare nowadays, probably because they are unrestrained in their technical demands—even the gentler pieces have fiendishly intricate details which render them immediately beyond the salon performer. Liszt’s method is of the same stamp as with the Rossini pieces, and the transcriptions themselves, depicting in turn the spring, a gallop, a Swiss shepherd, a sailor’s serenade, a drinking song and a Spanish gypsy girl, require no further gloss.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1992