Archive for March, 2016

Liszt, Hungarian Rhapsody No. 9 in E-Flat, “Carnival in Pest” (for Piano Trio)

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

Hungarian Rhapsody No. 9 in E-flat major, “Carnival in Pest”, 1847-48

(Arranged for Piano Trio by Liszt as S. 379 in 1848)

Franz LisztFranz Liszt was a towering figure in the 19th Century Romantic Movement crucially involved in several facets of European musical culture. He was likely the greatest concert pianist of his generation with a truly transcendental technique, a commanding presence as performer, the inventor of the solo recital (played by memory), a brilliant improviser and a veritable “rock star” with swooning groupies across the continent in a phenomenon once dubbed “Lisztomania.” This sensational persona belies the fact that Liszt was a deep musician and a great champion of Beethoven, Schubert and Bach (among others); he performed some of their most challenging works and, through his remarkable piano transcriptions of orchestral music, helped establish what we now regard as “the canon.” It was perhaps because of his knowledgeable grasp of musical history that Liszt felt the inevitable force of what he deemed music progress. With an equal passion for the innovative music of Berlioz, Wagner and his own invention of the single-movement symphonic tone poem, Liszt became the leading figurehead of the so-called “New German School.” On one side of an aesthetic rift stood Brahms, Schumann and Mendelssohn who sought to uphold the classical tradition of well-established forms and “absolute music” with meaning unto itself; on the other, Wagner and Liszt who pursued new forms of expression with the belief that music could express the entire world. Meanwhile, Liszt substantially expanded the range and power of piano technique, pushed tonal harmony to its limits and even anticipated multiple trends of modern music that would emerge after his death. (more…)