In 1858 Liszt set to music a poem by his ‘dear, excellent friend’ Hoffmann von Fallersleben, whose elder son was named Franz in the composer’s honour: In Liebeslust
. It was this poet who, in an ode in praise of the Altenburg (Liszt’s Weimar home), wrote ‘Es ist nicht eine Burg der Alten’ (‘It is not a refuge for the old’), to hymn the youthful hearts and forward-looking artistic sensibilities of those who congregated there. Liszt’s progressive, late-Romantic harmonies are on display here, complete with enharmonic key transformation in the penultimate section. The song is tightly unified by recurrences, transpositions, and metamorphoses of the three-note figure we hear at the start in the piano. For the proclamations ‘Ich liebe dich’ at the song’s climax, Liszt bids the singer to loudly declaim the words ‘ich lie—[be]’ (‘I love’) and then become hushed for the crucial word ‘dich’ (‘you’) in an example both of the contrasts Liszt loved and the emotional truth he sought.
from notes by Susan Youens © 2010