Soyeon Kate Lee (piano)
Suiting his choice of repertoire to his audience, at the age of thirteen Liszt had played pieces by Handel and Mozart to George IV in London. Works by Handel remained in his repertoire both as a pianist and, in Weimar, as a conductor. His only published work based on Handel in his Sarabande and Chaconne from Almira, which he described as a Concert Arrangement. Almira, an early Singspiel, was Handel's first attempt at opera, written in Hamburg to replace a work that, seemingly, Reinhard Keiser, the lessee and director of the Hamburg Goosemarket Opera, had been forced to abandon, while he took refuge from his creditors. It was staged in Hamburg in 1704. Liszt's concert arrangement moves a long way from Handel, with something of the course it is to take suggested even in the opening bars. He provides a series of variations of increasing virtuosity, the first on the Sarabande, followed, after a short break, by a particularly sprightly Chaconne, leading to a final Grandioso trionfante (tempo della sarabande) and a closing Allegro. The work dates from 1879 and was written for Liszt's indefatigable English pupil, Walter Bache. Liszt's five transcriptions and arrangements of works by Gounod date from the 1860s. The Hymne a Sainte Cecile was written in 1865 and dedicated to the violinist Delphin Alard. Gounod made various arrangements of the piece, which was originally scored for solo violin, with an orchestra of wind instruments, timpani, harp and double bass. He later devised a version of the work replacing the violin solo with a soprano, with the words of the Ave verum. Liszt's elaboration of the piece was written in 1866. Les Adieux, described as a Reverie on a motif from Gounod's opera Romeo et Juliette, was written in 1867, the year of the first staging of Gounod's opera in April at the Paris Theatre Lyrique. Although the frontispiece of Liszt's work shows Romeo about to descend from Juliet's balcony, Liszt took as his subject the three significant partings of the lovers, first in the balcony scene at the end of Act II of the opera, then as Romeo leaves Juliet after their wedding night in Juliet's chamber and finally as they part in Juliet's tomb, a scene with reminiscences of a happier time. Gounod's opera La reine de Saba (The Queen of Sheba), first staged at the Paris Opera in 1862, was initially unsuccessful, although it fared rather better in revival away from Paris. King Solomon wants to marry the Queen of Sheba, Balkis, who herself is associated with the sculptor and architect Adoniram, descended like her from Tubalkain. Plans of elopement together by Balkis and Adoniram are foiled, when dissatisfied workers, who had earlier destroyed a great bronze vessel by Adoniram, murder the artist. The Berceuse forms part of the Act III ballet in the opera, as the girls of Sheba and of Solomon's court await the wedding of Solomon and Balkis, delayed by her absence. The Berceuse, in Liszt's transcription, makes use of gently arpeggiated chords, at first based on the tuning of the violin.
Liszt Sarabande und Chaconne aus dem Singspiel Almira von Handel S181, Hymne a Sainte Cecile S491, Andante finale und Marsch aus der Oper Konig Alfred S421 - Andante finale, Marsch; Les adieux reverie sur un motif de l'opera Romeo et Juliette S409, Les sabeennes berceuse de l'opera La reine de Saba S408, Valse de l'opera Faust de Gounod S407, Die Rose Romanze aus der Oper Zemir und Azor S571
Running Time: 1 hr 8 min