Recorded on 01/19/2012, uploaded on 01/19/2012
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Franz Liszt spent the late 1830s traveling throughout Switzerland and Italy with his mistress Marie d’Agoult. During his travels and the years immediately following he captured his personal reflections of the Alpine landscapes of Switzerland and the masterworks of Italian Renaissance art in the first two suites of his three-part Années de Pèlerinage (“Years of Pilgrimage”), titled Première année: Suisse and Deuxième année: Italie, respectively. A quarter of a century later after the publication of Deuxième année: Italie, Liszt published the third and final installment of Années de Pèlerinage. The final bears only the title of Troisième année, with no reference to a location. Three of its seven pieces, however, draw inspiration from the Villa d’Este, a Renaissance villa in Tivoli outside of Rome, where Liszt performed at the invitation of Cardinal Gustav Adolf Hoholohe.
Liszt depicted the gardens, with their many fountains, pools and water troughs, of Villa d’Este in Les jeux d’eau à la Villa d’Este (“The Fountains of Villa d’Este”), the most popular piece of the final suite. Composed in 1877, the piece looks forward to the Impressionism of Debussy in its aural representation of water and is a remarkable example of Liszt’s use of coloristic effects. In the radiant key of F-sharp major, it opens with brilliant arpeggios of extended chords (ninths and elevenths). Tremolandi, primarily in the upper register of the piano, are used extensively throughout the piece as Liszt depicts the brilliant flow of water throughout the gardens of Villa d’Este. However, in the middle of the piece, Liszt departs momentarily from the pictorial presentation of water to a spiritual one instead. A simple melody emerges, accompanied by sweeping harp-like arpeggios, over which Liszt placed the inscription, “Sed aqua quam ego dabo ei, fiet in eo fons aquae salientis in vitam aeternam” (“But the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life”). A passage similar to the beginning returns the listener to the Villa d’Este gardens. However, the unadorned chords of the closing once more draw the focus to the mystical element of the middle section. Joseph DuBose
Les jeux d’eau à la Villa d’Este from Années de Pèlerinage Franz Liszt
This piece (“The Water Fountains of the Villa of Este”) foreshadows the Impressionism period in music. It has a deeper meaning than the title might suggest, as it connects the water fountains of the Italian villa (Este) to the symbol of water depicted in the Bible. A red symbol in the shape of a cross marks an early manuscript/edition of the score; Liszt further reveals the religious underpinnings of the piece by writing the words from the Gospel of John, chapter 4. This chapter depicts the interaction between the Samaritan woman and Jesus Christ, commonly known as the story of “The Woman at the Well”. As the world celebrates Liszt’s bicentennial this month, the work symbolizes his life and music: it illustrates both his greatness as a pianist and composer, and also sheds light on his spiritual journey of faith that led to its inspiration and ultimate musical meaning. Brian Lee
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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