Recorded on 04/12/2005, uploaded on 01/10/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
In the company of Marie d’Agoult, Franz Liszt travelled throughout Switzerland and Italy during the 1830s. He was greatly inspired by the scenes of the former and he captured his personal reflections in a set of pieces titled Album d’un voyageur, which was later published in 1842. Liszt returned to this suite of pieces between 1848 and 1854, revising and expanding it to include Èglogue, which had been published separately, and Orage, which had been composed in 1855. Rechristening the suite as Première année: Suisse (“First Year: Switzerland”), it became the first volume of his three-part Années de Pèlerinage (“Years of Pilgrimage”) and was published in the same year.
Liszt captioned the fourth piece of the suite, Au bord d’une source (“Beside a Spring”), with a line from Friedrich Schiller: “In the whispering coolness begins young nature’s play.” The glistening broken chords with which the piece begins certainly lend itself to the picturesque interpretation of sunlight reflecting off the crystal clear water of a mountain spring as suggested by the title, yet the pregnant quality of the melody suggests more of Schiller’s line—the spring as only the beginning of the scene and the purveyor of nature’s bountiful inhabitants. Embellishments increase as the piece progresses; the rustic scene takes on a vibrant life and one can easily imagine the beautiful surroundings in which Liszt may have conceived this tone poem. An effervescent passage on the subdominant signals the closing of the scene. However, in the final chords that close the piece, one is not left the feeling that the scene has ended, but merely that we, as observers, have left it and that the life-giving spring, surrounded by its inhabitants, continues on just outside of our perception. Joseph DuBose
Au bord d'une source belongs to a collection of pieces published in 1852, Années de Pèlerinage, Suisse or "The Years of Travel: Switzerland". As the title of the piece suggests, the piano writing is used here to allude to the shimmering of a creek by the delicate figurations given to the right hand and by the weaving of chromatic writing to connect different harmonies used to produce a "shimmering" effect. Carlos César Rodríguez
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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