Franz Liszt Piano Duo

Franz Liszt Piano Duo: Piano Music 34

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Product Type: CD

Title: Piano Music 34
Label: Naxos

Liszt wrote his A Faust Symphony; Three Character Pictures, Faust, Gretchen and Mephistopheles, after Goethe, in 1854, adding a choral finale three years later, when it was first performed in Weimar. Further revisions took place, with changes introduced even as late as 1880. He transcribed the second Gretchen movement for solo piano, completing it eventually in 1874, and in 1862 published his version of the work for two pianos, revising it in 1870. The subject of Faust, the scholar who sold his soul to the Devil in return for youth and power, had a particular attraction to artists in the nineteenth century, when Faust might appear as a human hero, an opponent of ancient tyrannies, political and religious, and the Devil himself might seem to have similar attractions. Where the Elizabethan version of the story by Christopher Marlowe brought Faust to a medieval Hell, Goethe's monumental and influential poetic treatment of the subject ended in the final redemption of Faust through the power of love and of the woman he had wronged, Gretchen. Liszt based his symphony on the literary work of his great predecessor in Weimar, Goethe, and returned to the subject of Faust in later compositions based on Lenau's Faust, including the Mephisto Waltzes. The second movement, Gretchen, generally lightly scored, starts with a gentle passage, scored originally for flutes and clarinets, followed by the main theme, played by oboe accompanied by solo viola, the two piano version marked Innocente. There is a short passage that represents the scene in the garden when Gretchen plucks the petals of a flower, seeking to know whether Faust loves her or not. A second Gretchen theme is heard, and in the central section of the movement Faust's theme of love appears, and a descending melody associated with Faust's yearning. The agitated theme of Faust's struggle re-appears, now mollified in a gentler mood. This leads to a re-appearance of the Gretchen themes, with the theme of Faust's heroism utterly transformed in conclusion, as the sound dies away. The third part of the Faust Symphony is devoted to the devil, Mephistopheles. Marked Allegro vivace, ironico, it transforms the thematic material of the earlier pictures, in a remarkable scherzo of great power, twisting the material associated with Faust, but allowing Gretchen to overcome the power of evil, when her theme appears in all it's simple purity, after the violence of a fugue, based on a version of the theme associated with the emotions of Faust. The complexities of the movement and the transformation of earlier thematic material defy succinct explanation in a picture that includes only one extraneous thematic element, the 'pride' theme from Liszt's Malédiction for piano and orchestra.

1.1 I. Faust
1.2 II. Gretchen
1.3 III. Mephistopheles
1.4 IV. Schlussgesang

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