Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


Franz Liszt

As most Liszt mavens are aware, the Transcendental Etudes have origins dating back to two earlier versions, the first from 1826 that bears the title Étude en douze exercizes, and the second from 1838. The final version is without doubt the finest of the trio and Harmonies du soir (Evening harmonies) is one of its more compelling items. It is, to be sure, one of the less-driven, less-transcendental etudes, though it is still quite technically challenging in its stormy middle section. In the outer sections, the work is quiet and intimate, nocturne-like and nuanced with all shades of delicacy in dynamics. The piece opens with a brief introductory theme, after which follows the beautiful main theme, a creation whose contour is complex as it travels along a winding road, descending then rising, then blossoming into the sunlight upon its second appearance when the piano renders it with harp-like arpeggiations. A second theme appears in the middle section, at first subdued but later stormy when elements from the first melody reappear. The climax to this section is powerful and full of thunderous chords that seem to bring on some musical epiphany. The work closes with a quiet reprise of the main theme. This etude typically lasts nine or ten minutes.