Recorded on 07/09/2010, uploaded on 07/09/2010
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Liszt is known for making often extensive revisions to his own works, producing multiple versions of them. Such is the case with the Études d’exécution transcendante (Transcendental Etudes), where a quarter of a century passed between their conception and final form. Liszt began the etudes as early as 1826, when he was only fifteen years of age. The original twelve etudes bore the title Étude in douze exercices (Studies in Twelve Exercises) and were intended to be the first in a much larger set of 48 total etudes. The remaining etudes, however, never materialized. Liszt returned to the twelve etudes in 1837 and produced revised versions and gave them a new title: Douze Grande Études (Twelve Great Studies). A little more than a decade later, in 1851-52, he returned once again to the etudes and fashioned them into their final form and rechristened them with the title by which they are known today. In this final version, Liszt removed some of the technical difficulties of the 1837 version, including stretches larger than a tenth, to accommodate pianists with smaller hands and less technical skill. This final set Liszt dedicated to his former teacher, Carl Czerny.
The only etude of the collection to not be granted a descriptive title, the tenth etude is a violent tempest of emotions. In the key of F minor, the setting of Beethoven’s own Appassionata Sonata, Liszt begins with a descending torrent of chords, which becomes a recurring motif, followed by the etude’s principal melody—a poignant tune, marked by halftone appoggiaturas, that slowly and painfully climbs the tones of the tonic triad. A new, consoling idea appears a little later perched delicately atop the still raging flow of arpeggios that pervade the work. This moment of reassurance, however, is but short-lived and Liszt plunges into an exploration of the ideas he has presented thus far. Yet, the consoling melody becomes the focus of the etude’s climax, reappearing in the key of A minor and initiating a gradual climb to high, reiterated D-flats. Receding from this apex, the etude reaches a point of being excessively weighed down and seems to struggle to break free of a burdensome weight. Yet, at this moment it suddenly breaks and, finding a new energy, takes flight in a spirited coda that carries the etude to its tragic conclusion. Joseph DuBose
Recorded on 5/25/2009. Uploaded on 7/9/2010.
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