Recorded on 08/29/2011, uploaded on 09/03/2011
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
During the early nineteenth century, audiences across Europe were in awe of the seemingly superhuman abilities of the violin virtuoso Paganini. Though many of the techniques which made Paganini famous were already in existence, he nevertheless singlehandedly ushered them into the standard technique, raising the level of violin performance, and influencing violinists after him. At one performance Paganini gave in Paris, a young Franz Liszt was present in the audience. Liszt was captivated with Paganini’s performance and skill, so much so that he determined to become as great a performer on the piano as Paganini was on the violin. To demonstrate his new abilities, Liszt once again turned to Paganini for inspiration and composed six piano etudes based on the violin virtuoso’s own caprices in 1838-40. These etudes were a compendium of the techniques Liszt innovated and it is quite likely he was the only one capable of performing them. So Liszt followed in the steps of his mentor and not only established himself as the preeminent piano virtuoso of his day but raised the level of performance for successive generations of pianists. Liszt later returned to these etudes in 1851. In this later version, the better known Grande Etudes de Paganini, he removed many of the extreme technical difficulties, placing them within the grasp of more pianists.
The second etude, Andantino capriccioso in E-flat major, follows a ternary pattern preceded by a brief introduction. The outer sections present a coquettish subject of rapidly descending scales answered by coaxing staccato chords. A central episode in C minor turns the mood somewhat more dramatic with a vigorous melody in octaves that begins in the bass and moves upward into the treble. This brief episode leads into an embellished restatement of the introduction followed by the reprise of the opening E-flat melody. The etude ends curtly with the brisk descent from the upper reaches of the keyboard to the bass and resonant heavy tonic chords. Joseph DuBose
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