Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days. (Available now to download.)
The virtuoso pianist and exclusive Chandos artist Louis Lortie here performs all three books, or ‘Years’, of Liszt’s Années de Pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage), a work rarely recorded in its entirety. Lortie has made more than thirty recordings for Chandos, covering a repertoire from Mozart to Stravinsky. His recording of Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ Variations won an Edison Award; his disc of works by Schumann and Brahms was judged one of the best CDs of the year by BBC Music, and his interpretations of Liszt’s complete works for piano and orchestra and of Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas were both selected as Editor’s Choice in Gramophone.
Liszt was an artist by nature. He seemed to feel and be affected by external influences far more deeply than most, and he was a master at translating these feelings into music. The first Year of the Années de Pèlerinage, a reworking of pieces from his earlier Album d’un Voyageur, was inspired by his travels in Switzerland as a young man. In this work, the music does not depict or describe particular scenes or landscapes, rather it attempts to communicate the feeling that Liszt experienced when he saw them, his ‘strongest sensations and most lively impressions’.
‘Chapelle de Guillaume Tell’, for example, depicts a fourteenth-century Swiss hero through a broad and stately theme that quotes a Swiss Alpine horn melody with trumpet calls, echoes, and tremolos. ‘Au lac de Wallenstadt’ depicts the gently rising and retreating waves of the lake, over which Liszt places a theme of beautiful simplicity.
The second Year was inspired by the art and literature that Liszt encountered on his travels in Italy. ‘Sposalizio’ was inspired by Raphael’s painting The Marriage of the Virgin in the Brera in Milan, and ‘Il Penseroso’ by Michelangelo’s statue on the tomb of Lorenzo de’ Medici in the church of San Lorenzo in Florence.
The third and last Year of the Années de Pèlerinage was written much later, when Liszt was in his sixties, and at a time when both the man and the style of his music had undergone a vast change. The pieces show far more simplicity in the treatment of the musical components and often convey a mood of despair and stark austerity.
From the outset, Liszt knew that his Années de Pèlerinage was unlikely to appeal to the masses. In his own words, the work was ‘written for the few rather than the many – not ambitious of success, but of the approval of that minority which conceives art as having other uses than the beguiling of idle hours, and asks more from it than the futile distraction of a passing entertainment’.
Franz Liszt: Annees de pelerinage, 1st year, Switzerland, S160/R10
No. 1. La chapelle de Guillaume Tell (The Chapel of William Tell)
No. 2. Au lac de Wallenstadt (At the Lake of Wallenstadt)
No. 3. Pastorale (Pastoral)
No. 4. Au bord d'une source (Beside a Spring)
No. 5. Orage (Storm)
No. 6. Vallee d'Obermann (Valley of Obermann)
No. 7. Eclogue (Eclogue)
No. 8. Le mal du pays (Homesickness)
No. 9. Les cloches de Geneve (The Bells of Geneva)
Franz Liszt: Annees de pelerinage, 2nd year, Italy, S161/R10b
No. 1. Sposalizio (Marriage of the Virgin)
No. 2. Il penseroso (The Thinker)
No. 3. Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa (Canzonetta of Salvador Rosa)
No. 4. Sonetto 47 del Petrarca (Sonnet 47 of Petrarch)
No. 5. Sonetto 104 del Petrarca (Sonnet 104 of Petrarch)
No. 6. Sonetto 123 del Petrarca (Sonnet 123 of Petrarch)
No. 7. Apres une lecture du Dante, fantasia quasi una sonata (After Reading Dante)
Franz Liszt: Annees de pelerinage, 3rd year, S163/R10
No. 1. Angelus! Priere aux anges gardiens (Angelus. Prayer to the Guardian Angels)
No. 2. Aux cypres de la Villa d'Este I (To the Cypresses of the Villa d'Este I: Threnody)
No. 3. Aux cypres de la Villa d'Este II (To the Cypresses of the Villa d'Este II: Threnody)
No. 4. Les jeux d'eau a la Villa d'Este (The Fountains of the Villa d'Este)
No. 5. Sunt lacrymae rerum (en mode hongrois) (There are Tears for Things (In The Hungarian Mode))
No. 6. March funebre (Funeral March)
No. 7. Sursum corda (Lift up Your Hearts)
Franz Liszt: Annees de pelerinage, 2nd year, Italy supplement, S162/R10: Venezia e Napoli
No. 1. Gondoliera (Gondolier's Song)
No. 2. Canzone (Song)
No. 3. Tarantella
“Complete - and completely successful - traversals of Années de pèlerinage are relatively thin on the ground, This is one of them. Usually one or two pieces fall by the wayside but Lortie maintains a consistent level of excellence in performances that transcend the sterile surrounds of the studio.”
7th April 2011
“Technically he is, as one might expect, immaculate. This is, in many respects, no-frills Liszt, very masculine and carefully steering clear of self-conscious sentiment or souped-up passion...This is not to say, however, that Lortie misses Liszt's poetry. Les Cloches de Genève, for instance, is about as exquisite as it gets, and he's also notably strong when it comes to dealing with the sensuousness that informs Liszt's religious sensibilities.”
“His identification with Liszt's poetic message lends every bar an unimpeachable emotional authenticity and, conceptually speaking, these are strikingly original interpretations, without a trace of received wisdom. In a word, this fresh and vital Années de Pèlerinage is quite unlike any other.”
“Louis Lortie's credentials for taking on this greatest of musical pilgrimages are self-evident from the start. The opening 'Chapelle de Guillaume Tell', from the Switzerland-inspired first book, is delivered with epic sweep and grandeur, wonderfully shimmering tremolos, and a huge tonal range.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.