La lugubre gondola
was the product of deep personal emotion. Liszt wrote two versions, the first inspired (he later claimed) by a premonition of Wagner’s death in Venice in 1883, the second (on which the cello version is based) by the death itself. What tragic music! One can hear the dark water lapping mournfully on the shore, the cries of the black-clad gondoliers, the grief-stricken prayers of the mourners.
from notes by Steven Isserlis © 2012