, the French revision of Verdi’s fourth opera I Lombardi alla prima crociata
, was produced in 1847, and Liszt made his elaboration of Giselda’s aria Salve Maria!
the following year. This prayer appears in both versions of the opera, and was rightly recognized by Liszt as a high point in the score. His first transcription of the piece begins reverently enough, but allows the second verse to expand over florid arpeggios, giving a grand and fervent sweep to the whole. When Liszt revised the work towards the end of his life, his approach differed radically: the second verse takes on an ethereal quality, and many other subtle changes are made to ensure that the work emerges as a much more intimate and devout piece. Like the reissue of the transcription of the Agnus Dei
from Verdi’s Requiem
, the second version of Salve Maria
(significantly without the exclamation mark) contains alternative passages for use with Ricordi’s piano avec la pédale à vibrations prolongées
(piano with a tremolo pedal), a device which automatically arranged for all held notes to be repeated by means of a revolving drum which reactivated all the raised hammers—an instrument which Liszt cautiously recommended.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1996