This Belgian-trained, Danish-born composer settled in Weimar in 1857 when Liszt took on the production and performance of his first opera (Landgraf Ludwigs Brautfahrt
, originally Le roi Edgard
), and he remained there as Liszt’s assistant and eventual successor. Nowadays only a few songs remain on the fringes of the repertoire. The works of Lassen which Liszt transcribed suggest that there may be more of his music worthy of exploration, and the song transcriptions in particular indicate an interesting musical personality. Liszt first transcribed Löse, Himmel, meine Seele
(‘Heaven, save my soul’) in 1861, and captured, as did Lassen before him, the most palatable aspects of this rather hot-house poem (by Peter Cornelius)—a prayer for love and for understanding of the world’s joys and for deliverance from being turned to dust. (Incidentally, it is this version which currently is in print in Peters Edition, despite their inaccurate dating and presumption that it is the later version.) In the later version Liszt extended the introduction and replaced the music of the final verse and climax for publication in 1872 alongside the newly-transcribed Ich weil’ in tiefer Einsamkeit
(‘I remained in deep loneliness’)—another much-dated poem: the poet sings of his love to a portrait of his beloved recollecting happiness amidst present loneliness. The setting moves with magisterial restraint, and the change to the major key in accordance with the poem’s reminiscences is memorable. Liszt’s transcription exists in two manuscripts which exemplify clearly his care in making such arrangements: the earlier has many corrections, and a paste-over where Liszt’s happy second thought was to extend three bars in the last verse from 4/4 into 6/4 time. Although this MS is obviously ready for the engraver, with text underlaid, and all dynamics, fingerings and other performance directions in place, Liszt made a neater fair copy, signed ‘FL Juin ’72’, in which he made a last-minute inspired change of one note in the coda from E sharp to E natural.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1996