Hyperion Records

Fantasia in C major, Op 12

'Nikolai Demidenko live at Wigmore Hall' (CDD22024)
Nikolai Demidenko live at Wigmore Hall
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Movement 1: Andante
Track 1 on CDD22024 CD1 [6'34] 2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1)
Movement 2: Allegro con brio
Track 2 on CDD22024 CD1 [4'02] 2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1)

Fantasia in C major, Op 12
The Fantasia, Op 12, was published by Artaria of Vienna in 1822. When it was written is unknown; however, a surviving autograph of the second movement (marked ‘Allegro di bravura’ and shorter than the printed version in a number of important details) bears the date 29 September 1817. Vorísek was considered by his peers to have been one of the best improvisers of his time. According to Alois Fuchs (in his ‘Biographische Notizen über Johan Hugo Worzischek’, Monatsbericht der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Vienna 1829), he ‘excelled [Moscheles] in extemporaneous fantasizing; … in this genre, where the individual genius expresses itself most unmistakably, Vorísek was surpassed only by his model Hummel’.

If the Op 20 Sonata was Vorísek’s ‘quasi una Fantasia’, then his Op 12 Fantasia is his ‘quasi una Sonata’. The first movement combines rhetoric, Beethovenian allusions, and Baroque polyphony (the ‘learned’/connoisseur style) with a strain of arabesque (the ‘modern’/popular) reminiscent of Weber. The virtual omission of the first subject in the reprise, and the absence of a coda, will be noted.

In the style of Hummel’s Op 18 Fantasy (1811), the Allegro (triplet-dominated and pianistically challenging) is interesting for how its initial subject – incorporating changes in mode (from major to minor), metre (from 3/4 to 4/4), figuration and tempo – is an exact metamorphosis, anticipating Liszt, of the corresponding idea of the first movement: an inventively organic cyclic feature shared later by the development section boldly opening, like that of the first, with a chord of the diminished seventh. The lyrical component of the second subject group (characterized otherwise by rapid runs, hand-crossings and passages of broken tenths) originates from Beethoven – the first movements of the First and Third Concertos. In the published text (but not the manuscript, where its inclusion on a separate page at the end shows it to have been an afterthought), it is used to generate contrast and relief in both the development and (modified) recapitulation.

In one of his notebooks (No 18, Prague/Vienna c1812-15), Vorísek listed the emotional characteristics keys were supposed to have. C major, he sensed, was ‘bright, cheerful, pure’. C minor, by contrast, he believed to be symbolic of ‘profound lamentation’.

from notes by Ates Orga © 1998

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