LISZT Music for Violin and Piano
Not many readers, even those of us who worship at the shrine of Franz Liszt, will have encountered these works before. The Duo Sonata (22'04"), the manuscript of which only came to light in the late 1950s, is basically a four-movement series of treatments and variations on Chopin’s Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op 6 No 2. It’s a most appealing work, even if the last of the four movements is a let-down after the third (Allegretto). (Keith Anderson, Naxos’s excellent in-house booklet writer, misdates the work to 1832 35; it has been shown that a folk theme within the body of the sonata proves Liszt could not have written it till 14 years later.) The Grand duo concertant sur la Romance de M Lafont ‘Le marin’ was based on one of many such romances by the French violinist Charles Philippe Lafont (1781-1839), hand-crafted to entertain the Parisian audiences of the 1830s. As you would expect, in both works the pianist is kept pretty busy. Wojciech Waleczek gives every indication of enjoying the challenges. Here and in the paraphrase of Liszt’s own setting of Lenau’s poem ‘Die drei Zigeuner’ (‘The Three Gypsies’), a kind of violinistic appendage to the Hungarian Rhapsodies for piano solo, the pinpoint ensemble and dynamic shading of this duo is exemplary.
Three later works – the Epithalamium for the Wedding Celebration of Eduard Reményi (Liszt’s violinist friend and fellow countryman), written in 1872, and the two Elegies (1876 and 1878) – are less animated but no less attractive. This interesting and valuable programme also includes Jeno˝ Hubay’s transcription of the Valse-Impromptu (dedicated to Yehudi Menuhin), in a performance and recorded sound that are superior to Ferenc Szecso˝di and István Kassai on Hungaraton. The relatively small amount of chamber music that Liszt did write turns up infrequently on disc. This one, with its two fine protagonists, might encourage others to explore these gems from his seemingly bottomless treasure chest.