Hyperion Records

Concerto for piano and strings in E minor 'Malédiction', S121
composer
circa 1833

Recordings
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 53 – Music for piano & orchestra I' (CDA67401/2)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 53 – Music for piano & orchestra I
Buy by post £20.00 CDA67401/2  2CDs  
'Liszt: Complete Piano Music' (CDS44501/98)
Liszt: Complete Piano Music
Buy by post £200.00 CDS44501/98  99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)  
Details
Movement 1: Quasi moderato 'Malédiction' – Sostenuto – Molto agitato – Calmato 'Pleurs, angoisse'
Track 1 on CDA67401/2 CD2 [4'19] 2CDs
Track 1 on CDS44501/98 CD96 [4'19] 99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Movement 2: Un poco più animato – Un poco agitato – Vivo 'Raillerie' – Sempre più di fuoco
Track 2 on CDA67401/2 CD2 [3'50] 2CDs
Track 2 on CDS44501/98 CD96 [3'50] 99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Movement 3: Energico nobilmente – Sempre moderato, a tempo rubato – Sostenuto – Recitativo: Patetico: Senza tempo – Andante lacrimoso
Track 3 on CDA67401/2 CD2 [2'48] 2CDs
Track 3 on CDS44501/98 CD96 [2'48] 99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Movement 4: Animato con agitazione – Molto animato, quasi presto – Stretto – Strepitoso
Track 4 on CDA67401/2 CD2 [4'49] 2CDs
Track 4 on CDS44501/98 CD96 [4'49] 99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)

Concerto for piano and strings in E minor 'Malédiction', S121
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We do not know if Liszt ever heard his Concerto for Piano and Strings—the so-called Malédiction—even in rehearsal, and yet, on the evidence of surviving manuscripts, he spent some time over a period of years getting the work into its very satisfactory final shape. (A large manuscript of an earlier fragment for piano and strings containing some material in common with the final score is held at the Goethe-Schiller Archive in Weimar.) Nor do we know why he wrote on this occasion for strings only, since all his other works with solo piano of the same period, whether performed, published, completed or not, are all for symphony orchestra including trombones and percussion. This powerful single-movement piece is among Liszt’s earliest efforts at finding a way forward for the sonata principle; although its outlines conform to the general pattern of exposition (with the obligatory second subject and codetta), development and recapitulation, its narrative is susceptible to almost operatic changes of scene, mood and tempo.

The kinship of the opening motif (it is just this motif which Liszt labels ‘Malédiction’, rather than the whole score, which he left untitled) with the later Orage from the first of the Années de pèlerinage (see Vol 39) has often been remarked, as has Liszt’s use of the succeeding first theme proper—phrases notable for one long chord followed by a pair of two identical short ones—in the Mephistopheles movement of the Faust Symphony. The strings first accompany this menacing theme with quiet trills, and next build a sinuous chromatic line around it. The opening motif generates the livelier transition material, the last much calmer section of which Liszt marked ‘Pleurs, angoisse’ (‘Tears, anguish’). The tonality has ranged quite widely from the initial E minor by this stage, but a recitative introduced by piano and cello brings us to the second theme proper, in the traditional relative major, and to material which Liszt would recall in as late a work as the Valse oubliée No 3 of 1883. The recitative is fully incorporated into this theme before the livelier tempo Vivo is reached—effectively the codetta, which Liszt marks ‘Raillerie’—and a full close in G major is reached. The development immediately moves to E flat, concentrating upon the first theme and leading to a cadential recitative where the introduction is recalled. When the orchestra reappears we are at the recapitulation, but the order of events is somewhat altered. The earlier transition material is first, followed by the opening motif from piano and orchestra. The first theme now appears in E major, and the tempo increases. The cello motif is now incorporated into the first thematic group before a further increase in tempo brings the second subject material, transformed anon into the coda, with just a brief recall of the first theme in the last four bars.

from notes by Leslie Howard © 1998

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