Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 39 – Première année de pèlerinage
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No 1: Ranz de vaches – Mélodie de Ferdinand Huber, avec variations
No 2: Un soir dans la montagne – Mélodie d’Ernest Knop – Nocturne
No 3: Ranz de chèvres – Mélodie de Ferdinand Huber – Rondeau
The Ranz de vaches (there is simply no cognate for ‘ranz’ in English: it is the generic title of the melodies improvised by Swiss herdsmen—whether of cows, as in this piece, or of goats, as in the third—played on the alpenhorn or sung) is a slightly reworked version of the first Paraphrase in the Album, with a much shortened finale. The youthful exuberance remains but some exaggeration is tempered.
As in the earlier set, the second piece, Un soir dans la montagne (‘An evening in the mountains’), emerges as musically the finest. The outer sections have been subtly rewritten in this second version. As before, the central section depicts a violent storm, but in the revision there is more subtlety in the arrangement of the material, the storm is shorter, and the transition at the recapitulation is new.
The final piece must have pleased Liszt from the beginning, for, even forty years on, he did not feel the need to make more than a few tiny alterations to his original conception, except at the very last bars, where a more unified coda replaces the original brief outburst.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1996