LISZT: Annees de Pelerinage, Vol. 2 (Ibolya Toth/ Jeno Jando) (Naxos: 8.550549)
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Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886)
Annees de Pelerinage (Years of Pilgrimage) Vol. 2
Deuxi?¿me annee: Italie (Second Year: Italy)
Franz Liszt was born in 1811 at Raiding (Doborjan) near ?ûdenburg(Sopron) in a German-speaking region of Hungary. His father, Adam Liszt, was asteward in the employment of Haydn's former patrons, the Esterhazy Princes, andan amateur cellist. The boy showed early musical talent, exhibited in a publicconcert at ?ûdenburg in 1820, followed by a concert in Pressburg (the modernSlovak capital Bratislava). This second appearance brought sufficient supportfrom members of the Hungarian nobility to allow the family to move to Vienna,where Liszt took piano lessons from Czerny and composition lessons from the oldCourt Composer Antonio Salieri, who had taught Beethoven and Schubert. In 1822the Liszts moved to Paris, where, as a foreigner, he was refused admission tothe Conservatoire by Cherubini, but was able to embark on a career as avirtuoso, displaying his gifts as a pianist and as a composer.
On the death of his father in 1827 Liszt was joined again by his motherin Paris, where he began to teach the piano and to interest himself in thenewest literary trends of the day. The appearance of Paganini there in 1831suggested new possibilities of virtuosity as a pianist, later exemplified inhis Paganini Studies. A liaison with a married woman, the Comtesse Maried'Agoult, a blue-stocking on the model of their friend the novelist George Sand(Aurore Dudevant), and the subsequent birth of three children, involved Lisztin years of travel, from 1839 once more as a virtuoso pianist, a role in whichhe came to enjoy the wildest adulation of audiences.
In 1844 Liszt finally broke with Marie d'Agoult, who later took her ownliterary revenge on her lover. Connection with the small Grand Duchy of Weimarled in 1848 to his withdrawal from public concerts and his establishment thereas Director of Music, accompanied by a young Polish heiress, Princess Carolynezu Sayn-Wittgenstein, the estranged wife of a Russian nobleman and a woman ofliterary and theological propensities. Liszt now turned his attention to newforms of composition, particularly to symphonic poems, in which he attempted totranslate into musical terms works of literature.
Catholic marriage to Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein had proved impossible,but application to the Vatican offered some hope, when, in 1861, Liszttravelled to join her in Rome. The marriage did not take place and the couplecontinued to live separately in Rome, starting a period of his life that Lisztlater described as une vie trifurquee (a three-pronged life), as he divided histime between his comfortable monastic residence in Rome, his visits to Weimar,where he held court as a master of the keyboard and a prophet of the new music,and his appearance in Hungary, where he was now hailed as a national hero.
Liszt's illegitimate daughter Cosima had married the pianist andconductor Hans von B??low, whom she later deserted for Wagner, already thefather of two of her children. His own final years were as busy as ever, and in1886 he gave concerts in Budapest, Paris, Antwerp and London. He died inBayreuth during the Wagner Festival, now controlled by his daughter Cosima, towhom his appearance there seems to have been less than welcome.
Liszt's earlier years of wandering, during the course of hisrelationship with Marie d'Agoult, had given rise to two collections of pianopieces, described, in terms hardly complimentary to his mistress, as years ofpilgrimage. The second year, set in Italy, includes three pieces inspired bysonnets of Petrarch and previously published. The whole collection, composedbetween 1837 and 1849, was finally published in 1858. Sposalizio, written in1839, with its two combined themes, is based on Raphael's painting Lo sposalizio della Vergine in theVatican. It is succeeded by Il pensieroso, The Thinker, suggested byMichelangelo's sculptured tomb of Giuliano de Medici in the Medici chapel inFlorence and carrying a quotation from the artist's words expressingthankfulness that, made of stone, he may sleep, while the world remains full ofinjustice. The tune that dominates the Canzonetta of Salvator Rosa, is byBononcini, but the inspiration of the piece is a reminder of the popularity ofthe seventeenth century Italian painter, whose work had a particular wildappeal to the romantic imagination, depicting the world of Auber's Fra Diavolo. The words of the Canzonettaare written in the score, Vado ben spessocangiando loco / ma non so mai cangiar desio.
The three Petrarch sonnets are piano versions of settings of the poems,Benedetto sia 'I giorno, e 'l mese, el'anno, Blessed be the day, the month and the year, Pace non trovo, e non da far guerra, War Icannot wage, yet I find no peace, and l' vidiin terra angelici costumi, I saw on earth angelic grace. AfterReading Dante turns to another of the great Italian literary figures, whoseDivine Comedy was to be subject to Lisztian metamorphosis in a later symphonicpoem. The title of the piece is taken from a poem by Victor Hugo, and thesonata movement itself dwells on the Inferno, touching the sad fate of Paoloand Francesca, damned for their forbidden love.
The last three pieces, Venice and Naples, are more overtly popular ininspiration, a barcarolle with a melody borrowed from Rossini's Otello, a Canzone based on Peruchini and afinal vigorous Neapolitan Tarantella, with a melody published in a collectionby the Neapolitan Guglielmo Cottrau.
Jeno Jando was born at Pecs, in south Hungary, in 1952. He started tolearn the piano when he was seven and later studied at the Ferenc Liszt Academyof Music under Katalin Nemes and Pal Kadosa, becoming assistant to the latteron his graduation in 1974. Jand6 has won a number of piano competitions inHungary and abroad, including first prize in the 1973 Hungarian Piano Concoursand a first prize in the chamber music category at the Sydney InternationalPiano Competition in 1977. In addition to his many appearances in Hungary, hehas played widely abroad in Eastern and Western Europe, in Canada and in Japan.
He has recorded all Mozart's piano concertos and sonatas for Naxos. Otherrecordings for the Naxos label include the concertos of Grieg and Schumann aswell as Rachmaninov's Second Concerto
and Paganini Rhapsody and thecomplete piano sonatas of Beethoven.