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Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S173

composer
No 2: 1840; remainder 1845 to 1852; first published in this final form in 1853

 
The collection of Harmonies poétiques et religieuses divides broadly into two types of work: a simple style deriving from a choral original, and large-scale romantic poems of abundant inspiration. Critics have been rather unkind about the success of the mixture as a whole, but the very incongruity is an essential aspect of Liszt’s character, and the lesser pieces are certainly helped by being heard in context. As well as the Ave Maria, the Pater noster and the Hymne de l’Enfant were original choral pieces by Liszt. The Miserere was noted down by Liszt as a work of Palestrina which he heard performed in the Sistine Chapel. However, Palestrina has absolutely nothing to do with the odd melody of the motet which Liszt has collected and elaborated with tremolo and arpeggio variations. Another choral sketch is the basis for the second part of Pensée des morts. This piece is the reworking of the first part of the earlier Harmonies poétiques along with material from a sketched setting of the psalm ‘De profundis’, whose musical make-up is very similar to that of a long almost-complete work for piano and orchestra of the same title from 1834–5.

Several of the pieces are prefaced by stanzas from Lamartine’s poems, whence some of the titles derive. The Invocation is at once a prayer and a triumphant cry of faith, and, like many of Liszt’s works of this kind, is cast in E major.

Bénédiction de Dieu is the largest and finest piece of the set, and the added-sixth harmonies in F sharp major look forward to the religiously inspired music of Messiaen. The central Andante is perfect in its simplicity and reserve, and another delicate theme—sostenuto—precedes the return of the main material. Both secondary themes return in the gentle coda. Funérailles is subtitled ‘October 1849’. Many silly suggestions have been put about as to its inspiration—none less accurate than the notion that the piece is in memory of Chopin and that the tremendous galloping left-hand octaves in the middle section derive from Chopin’s A flat Polonaise. Many of Liszt’s acquaintances died in the mass execution at the hands of the Austrian court of Hungarian prime minister Batthyany and sixteen of his officers on 6 October 1849, in the aftermath of the failure of the 1848–9 revolution in Hungary. Although the ninth piece in the set is known only by its tempo direction, the poem which inspired it is entitled ‘Une larme ou consolation’, and that sets the tone for this inexplicably neglected piece, very tightly constructed, whose greatness is perhaps occluded by its sheer delicacy. Cantique d’amour returns to the tonality and warmth of the Invocation, but on a more intimate footing—an effort, perhaps, to ally love of God to human affection.

from notes by Leslie Howard © 1990

Recordings

Liszt: Harmonies poétiques et religieuses
Studio Master: CDA674452CDs for the price of 1Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 7 – Harmonies poétiques et religieuses
CDA66421/22CDs
Liszt: Complete Piano Music
CDS44501/9899CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Gina Bachauer – The first HMV recordings
APR5643Download only
Simon Barere – His celebrated live recordings at Carnegie Hall, Vol. 2 – 9 March 1947
APR5622Download only
Jorge Bolet – His earliest recordings
APR6009for the price of 1 — Download only
Liszt: Excerpts from Années de pèlerinage - Italie
Studio Master: SIGCD290Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Liszt: Piano Sonata
CDA67760
Nikolai Demidenko live at Wigmore Hall
CDD220242CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1)
Vladimir Horowitz – The complete solo European recordings
APR6004for the price of 1 — Download only

Details

No 01: Invocation
Track 1 on CDA67445 CD1 [7'27] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 7 on CDA66421/2 CD1 [6'35] 2CDs
Track 7 on CDS44501/98 CD13 [6'35] 99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
No 02: Ave Maria
Track 2 on CDA67445 CD1 [5'57] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 8 on CDA66421/2 CD1 [5'27] 2CDs
Track 8 on CDS44501/98 CD13 [5'27] 99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
No 03: Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude
Track 3 on CDA67445 CD1 [17'10] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 2 on CDA67760 [17'54]
Track 9 on CDA66421/2 CD1 [14'27] 2CDs
Track 9 on CDS44501/98 CD13 [14'27] 99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Track 7 on SIGCD290 [18'21] Download only
No 04: Pensée des morts
Track 4 on CDA67445 CD1 [13'47] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 10 on CDA66421/2 CD1 [11'49] 2CDs
Track 10 on CDS44501/98 CD13 [11'49] 99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
No 05: Pater noster
Track 5 on CDA67445 CD1 [2'35] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 11 on CDA66421/2 CD1 [1'56] 2CDs
Track 11 on CDS44501/98 CD13 [1'56] 99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
No 06: Hymne de l'Enfant à son réveil
Track 1 on CDA67445 CD2 [7'20] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 12 on CDA66421/2 CD1 [5'29] 2CDs
Track 12 on CDS44501/98 CD13 [5'29] 99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
No 07: Funérailles
Track 2 on CDA67445 CD2 [12'00] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 1 on CDA66421/2 CD2 [11'39] 2CDs
Track 1 on CDS44501/98 CD14 [11'39] 99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Track 11 on CDD22024 CD2 [12'35] 2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1)
Track 4 on APR5622 [11'00] Download only
Track 4 on APR5643 [8'48] Download only
Track 10 on APR6004 CD1 [9'09] for the price of 1 — Download only
Track 5 on APR6009 CD1 [11'27] for the price of 1 — Download only
No 08: Miserere d'après Palestrina
Track 3 on CDA67445 CD2 [3'04] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 2 on CDA66421/2 CD2 [3'26] 2CDs
Track 2 on CDS44501/98 CD14 [3'26] 99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
No 09: [Andante lagrimoso]
Track 4 on CDA67445 CD2 [7'51] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 3 on CDA66421/2 CD2 [7'13] 2CDs
Track 3 on CDS44501/98 CD14 [7'13] 99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
No 10: Cantique d'amour
Track 5 on CDA67445 CD2 [6'07] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 4 on CDA66421/2 CD2 [5'49] 2CDs
Track 4 on CDS44501/98 CD14 [5'49] 99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)

Track-specific metadata for CDA67445 disc 2 track 1

Hymne de l'Enfant à son réveil
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-03-44506
Duration
7'20
Recording date
30 December 2002
Recording venue
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon
Hyperion usage
  1. Liszt: Harmonies poétiques et religieuses (CDA67445)
    Disc 2 Track 1
    Release date: January 2004
    2CDs for the price of 1
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