Recorded on 10/02/2011, uploaded on 10/02/2011
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Shaken by the loss of his son Daniel in 1859 and daughter Blandine two years later, Franz Liszt retreated into a solitary life taking up modest quarters at a monastery outside of Rome. His compositional efforts during the succeeding years also turned inward. No longer composing with general audiences in mind, the music of Liszt’s later years became a personal exploration of new possibilities and, at times, expressions of intense religious feelings. Some of these pieces were not published during his lifetime but were enjoyed only by Liszt’s close friends and sometimes his students. Dating from his final decade, Liszt composed a fourth setting of the Ave Maria in 1881.
A simple piece, Ave Maria IV nevertheless possesses a wealth of emotions and pious, religious sentiments. In G major, it begins with an unfolding ostinato-like figure announced in octave by both hands. On the figure’s third repetition, Liszt deftly alters it slightly to lead to the key of E major. In this latter key, quiet melodic fragments emerge among sustained chords and a twice-repeated reverent fanfare. In a graceful descent, as if from heaven itself, the hands move together in a quasi-fauxbourdon passage concluding in another pithy melodic fragment that draws the music back to its starting key of G major. Flirting with a final cadence, the fauxbourdon descent is repeated once more, this time arriving at the two final chords of the piece suggesting an “Amen” cadence. Joseph Dubose
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