Recorded on 02/20/2007, uploaded on 01/25/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Throughout his prolific career, Franz Liszt fashioned many solo piano pieces from the works of other composers, perhaps most notably the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven and the lieder of Franz Schubert. Many of his own works he also arranged for piano solo, particularly his vocal music—for example, his settings of three Petrarch sonnets were included in the second volume of his Années de pèlerinage. The best examples are, however, his Liebesträume. Whereas Liszt’s vocal music is largely neglected, his piano arrangements on the other hand enjoy a far better reputation and presence on recital programs.
Both the vocal and piano editions of the three Liebesträume (Dreams of Love) were published simultaneously in 1850. Liszt referred to the triptych as notturnos and they were modeled on the examples set by Frédéric Chopin. Each deal with a particular aspect love: the first, based on poem by Ludwig Uhland speaks of religious love; the second, also by Uhland, of romantic love; and the third, by Ferdinand Freiligrath, of the brevity of time given to love and a warning of lost love. This last has become one of Liszt’s most famous and oft-performed works, even usurping solely for itself the title of Liebestraum to the near neglect of its siblings.
The piano solo version of the third Liebesträume borrows freely from the original lied—some passages are lifted straight from it, while others are certainly more pianistic and appropriately adapted to the altered setting. The passionate melody, purely Lisztian, is heard first in the middle voice over a firm bass, and the gentle accompaniment of arpeggios often found in nocturnes. Three statements of the melody, separated by brief cadenzas in a particular Chopin-esque manner, form the structure of the piece. The middle statement modulates from the original key of A-flat major, a key well-suited for themes of love, into a radiant B major. Halting suddenly, it resumes a halfstep higher building into a climatic return of the tonic key. In a final statement, only modestly embellished and with the melody placed in the highest voice, the piece recedes delicately from its passionate declamation to end peacefully in the warm harmonies of its final measures. Joseph DuBose
Liszt wrote three Liebesträume, a title meaning 'Dreams of Love'. They were written around 1850, the same time that Liszt composed his famous Sonata in b minor. Compared to that volatile and virtuosic work, the Liebesträume are in a much more restrained mood, as three love-songs without words. The third in A-flat Major is marked Poco allegro, con affetto ('with affection or sentiment'). Michael Cansfield
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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