Recorded on 10/13/2006, uploaded on 08/07/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Inspired by his travels through Switzerland and Italy, Franz Liszt penned the first two suites of his Années de pèlerinage (“Years of Pilgrimage”) between the late 1830s and 1850s. Whereas the first suite, Premiere année: Suisse (“First Year: Switzerland”), was a depiction of the landscapes and scenes Liszt witnessed in the country, the pieces of Deuxième année: Italie (“Second Year: Italy”) was a personal reflection on the art of the Italian peninsula. Forming a triptych within the suite are three works inspired by the sonnets of Petrarch. Based on songs for tenor voice he had composed earlier in 1838-39, Liszt transcribed them for piano solo, preceding them with quotes from their respective sonnet. Of the three, the second, Sonetto 104 is the most often performed.
A tale of unrequited love, Liszt’s musical setting captures the restlessness and intense longing of Petrarch’s sonnet. Prefaced by an agitated and chromatic introduction, the music settles into a passionate Adagio. The molto espressivo melody first appears over a sparse accompaniment of rolled chords, emphasizing the tormented emotions of the poet. With the second statement of the melody, an accompaniment of arpeggios supports the passionate song. Only in the final stanza, as the poet directs his attention explicitly to the object of his affection does the music become gentle, diving into the heart of the poet’s feelings. In soft tones, the music comes to an affectionate, yet uneasy, close. Joseph DuBose
Recorded live at San Francisco Conservatory
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