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It was a very odd coincidence that made Louis XI, one of France's most spiderish kings, in his plots to snare a potential foe and devise particularly messy ends for them, die in the arms of St Francis of Paola. Pope Sixtus IV was the intermediary. Francis averred that even the deaths of kings were God's sole responsibility, but spoke words comfortable enough to make Louis more presentable when summoned to his maker. Francis's reputation as miracle-worker remained unassailable; nor was it any mean feat to walk the straits of Messina after a ferryman had refused him passage. Liszt gives the saint a rough crossing over the turbulent waves, but a chorale ensures safe arrival [listen -- track 3, 2:31-3:53]. It so happens that I too have been reading Dante recently, as illuminated by Blake. They are all fresh in my mind, the wretched people rightway up or upside down, congealed in ice, sizzled in flames, or herded by demonic forks. So Liszt begins with the diabolus in musica, a baleful succession of augmented 4ths. He ends in a frenzy of sound and affirmation that God is just [listen -- track 4, 18:33-20:14].

Copyright © 21 January 2004 Robert Anderson, London UK


Martin Berkofsky - Franz Liszt

CF881 ADD Stereo 59'19" 1997 Cristofori Foundation

Martin Berkofsky, piano

Franz Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No 12; La Vallée d'Obermann; Légende: St François de Paule marchant sur les flots; Après une Lecture du Dante (Fantasia quasi Sonata)


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