Liszt – Années de pèlerinage: Italie


Around this time I got into Liszt bigtime. Until then I always thought Liszt and Chopin were kind of the same: too romantic and pianistic. And then I heard Après une lecture du Dante at a friends’ house and I was sold. This is Liszt at the peak of his abilities, and I loved it.

So I found these records, and at the same time I found the work on CD, recorded by Louis Lortie. I now find this performance by Jorge Bolet a bit less easy to stomach. It might be the sound of the recording, but I also think he’s just playing it a bit slow here and there.

Liszt wrote this suite between 1848 and 1855. It is curious that he wrote this first year of his Years of pilgrimage later than his second. Both are musical representations of his travels in different countries. And both have their own highlights.

For this one it is the Après une lecture du Dante, also known as the Dante sonata. It is written after a poem of the same name by Victor Hugo. Heaven is represented by a chorale in F-sharp major that is derived from the tritone that is used to represent hell. This is the devil’s interval of the diminished fifth. There are many stories about that interval, including that it was forbidden by the church. Most of that is rubbish, but the interval is still a bit discomforting, which was undoubtedly the reason of its extensive use here.

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *