Recorded on 04/22/1997, uploaded on 08/30/2011
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Composed in 1849-50, Franz Liszt’s six Consolations were inspired by a book of poetry of the same name by the French literary historian Charles Sainte-Beuve. Unlike many of his compositions for the piano, the Consolations demand only moderate technical skill of the performer and are therefore popular items on recital programs, particularly the third. In addition, they are fine examples of his early Romantic style, abounding in lush harmonies and sentimental melodies, which lend to their appeal. Liszt conceived the collection of miniatures as an integrated set to be performed together, indicated by the strong key relationships between the six pieces, although individual pieces are often singled out.
The first Consolation, an Andante con moto in E major, is a brief piece of an introductory nature. Merely one page in length, its melody establishes the overall mood of comfort and hopefulness of the entire set. It is followed by a lengthier piece also in E major and at a somewhat faster tempo. The steadily moving melody of this piece is expectant and hopeful, as if just on the verge of true joy, aided by the energetic broken chords of the accompaniment. The piece turns briefly introspective as a phrase emerges in the key of the relative minor but the radiant mood is restored as the melody reappears in the dominant key.
Likely the most performed of the set, the third piece shifts to the key of D-flat major and adopts the style of a Chopin nocturne. The nocturne’s ultra-Romantic melody unfolds over a gentle and soft accompaniment of arpeggios supported by sustained bass tones on the tonic. By the close of the melody’s eighth measure, the key turns towards F minor as if dusk has suddenly fallen and the first stars of the night sky have become visible. The key of A major arrives during the middle portion of the nocturne, briefly brightening the twilight scene. However, the tonic key returns, along with the principal melody, and concludes with a sentimental coda.
The fourth piece takes on a quasi-religious tone beginning with a hymn-like tune, yet offset with the subtle energy of syncopated rhythms in its even-numbered phrases. Intensity arises in the middle section with a new, but related melody, announced in a chant-like manner. Yet, the piece closes solemnly upon a plagal cadence.
Returning to the starting key of E major, the fifth piece, Andantino, adopts a song-like character. The melody, frequently accompanied by thirds and sixths in the manner of Mendelssohn, would have an almost carefree demeanor if it were not troubled by brief touches of the minor key and chromatic harmonies.
The sixth and final piece abandons at first the serious discourses of the previous five movements and adopts a lighthearted and playful character. However, the reappearance of its melody in F minor adds an element of passion revealing that the jocularity of the piece’s opening has not wholly comforted the artist’s troubled mind. The melody returns in E major, yet without the playful quality of before, but instead with a feeling of resolve. Finally, a coda returning to the style of the previous Consolations ends the piece and collection in a tone of hopefulness. Joseph DuBose
courtesy of the Liszt-Kodaly Society of Spain
We at classicalconnect.com believe that classical music is a necessity of life. It is our pleasure to be your virtual concert hall and bring you this performance.
Copyright 2008-2010 Classical Connect, LLC