These three early song transcriptions, originally issued as single numbers, were later revised and placed in the collection of twelve songs, S558, or, in the case of the Sérénade
, in its appropriate place in Schwanengesang
. Schubert’s Ave Maria
, Op 52/6/D839, has, despite the efforts of movie moguls and tasteless tenors, nothing to do with the famous Latin prayer but rather is a setting in translation of Walter Scott. But the text is indeed a hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary (the third of Ellen’s songs from The Lady of the Lake
) which Liszt overlays with a great deal of well-meant swirling harmony, and, in this version, adds a long coda in which Schubert’s motif is turned into a very serious piece of private devotion. The ever popular Sérénade
, D957/4, underwent many subtle changes, even additions and eliminations of pairs of bars of musical echo, between this very beautiful transcription and its equally beautiful revisions. Erlkönig
, Op 1/D328d, is too familiar, even in transcription, to require much elucidation. This version is really quite similar to its successor, excepting at the child’s cries of ‘Mein Vater’ in terror at the wraith’s approach, where Liszt requires quite a lot of movement amongst the inner parts.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1995