FRANZ LISZT: FANTAISIE ET FUGUE SUR LE NOM DE BACH, EN REVE, BALLADE NO. 2, NUAGES GRIS, BAGATELLE SANS TONALITE, LUGUBRE GONDOLE 1 ET 2, UNSTERN!, CSARDAS MACABRE - Olivier Gardon
TRACK LISTING: Fantaisie et Fugue sur le Nom de Bach, En Rêve - Nocturne, Ballade No. 2, Nuages Gris, Bagatelle sans Tonalité, La Lugubre Gondole No. 1, La Lugubre Gondole No. 2, Unstern!, Csardas Macabre
IMPRESSIONS: This album contains some of Liszt's darkest music. I always thought this would make for perfect listening around noon on Halloween; before the trick or treaters start coming around and before the sun goes down. There would be yellow leaves blowing about across the lawns and a nice, round orange pumpkin sitting sentry on the front porch. There is a particular stillness about Halloween afternoon which suits this piano music perfectly. Olivier Gardon's touch is spot on with this material and some of it features Liszt going "booga-booga"!
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Fantaisie et Fugue sur le Nom de Bach, Ballade No. 2, Nuages Gris, Bagatelle sans Tonalité, La Lugubre Gondole No. 1, La Lugubre Gondole No. 2, Unstern!, Csardas Macabre
FACT SHEET: Liszt's "Fantasy and Fugue on the Theme B-A-C-H" was composed in 1855 and later revised in 1870; it is a frequently performed piece in the organ repertoire even though it was originally composed for pianoforte. Nuages Gris mean "Grey Clouds" and was composed on August 24, 1881; it's one of Liszt's most haunting as well as experimental works with respect to expressive compositional structure and owes it's bleak sound probably to the fact that the composer was suffering from a fall down a flight of stairs as well as dropsy and failing eyesight at the time. "Bagatelle Without Tonality" was composed in 1885 is an extremely chromatic waltz which could be taken as a piece of program music for Nikolaus Lenau's FAUST. "La Lugubre Gondole" is one of Liszt's most important late works composed in Venice when the composer was a guest of Richard Wagner. Liszt may have had a premonition of Wagner's death which inspired the first version of the 4/4 piano work in 1882; the piece was recomposed shortly after in 1883 and was probably meant as a memorial piece to Wagner. "Unstern!" means "Evil Star" and is another example of Liszt's important late work (1885) in which he experiments with new chord structure and piling up thirds; at the climax of the piece Lizst pairs two mutually exclusive chords against each other in a sound which Peter Raabe has described as like a prisoner hammering on a wall knowing full well that no one will hear him. "Csardas Macabre" is another late "diabolic" piano work which may have been inspired by Liszt's friend Camille Saint-Saens' "Danse Macabre" of 1876.