<< -- 2 -- Robert Anderson CONSTANTLY THRILLING
In the summer of 1838 Liszt and the Countess moved to Lake Lugano, where
Dante and Petrarch featured in their reading. Supreme lyric poet, Petrarch
showed the way to Liszt not only with his artistry and incomparable celebration
of the elusive Laura but in taking minor orders at Avignon, which imposed
no obligations but provided benefices and canonries. Liszt's three 'Sonnets'
were originally conceived as songs, and No 104 contains the passionate contrasts
of Petrarch's poetry, declarations of love and despair such as the Lugano
pair were experiencing at the time. The middle section shows Liszt the virtuoso
getting into his stride [listen -- track 5, 2:37-3:41].
But nothing in these pieces touches the dazzling pianism of the 'Dante'
sonata. Maybe at Lugano the remarkable pair ended their reading with the
'Inferno'. That was my experience when stricken with measles at school,
and I await the leisure to proceed further. The works on the disc were not
published for some twenty years, by which time Liszt had put his amazing
gifts towards raising a Beethoven statue at Bonn. After an opening based
on ponderous tritones, traditionally the 'diabolus in musica', the first
subject settles to a lamentoso depiction of the souls in hell. Their
wailing rises to a pitch of terrifying intensity [listen
-- track 7, 1:36-2:49].
Copyright © 18 December 2002
Robert Anderson, London, UK