12 Grandes Etudes S137/R2a (1837, for piano).
Prism Variations on a Fragment of the Grande Etude No. 8 by Liszt
Simone Jennarelli is member of the League of Composers/ISCM - New York.
Simone Jennarelli, composer and pianist, has studied Composition with Bruno Bettinelli (the celebrated maestro of Muti, Pollini, Abbado, Chailly). He has studied piano with the great pianist and teacher Ludwig Hoffmann, in Wien (Austria) and in München (Germany).
Simone Jennarelli has written music for orchestra, chamber ensemble, piano, organ and chorus, soundtracks for experimental short films in competition at Montecarlo Festival in IMAGINA 2007.
Simone Jennarelli is also the featured artist, the producer and the copyright owner of his own music with label SmartCgArt.
He has recorded music by Brahms (Haydn Variations) and by Bettinelli for RSI, Italian Swiss Radio.
SmartCgArt is devoted to the musicological re-discovery and promotion of forgotten or neglected treasures of Classical Music.
12 Grandes Etudes S137/R2a (1837, for piano).
The Franz Liszt's 12 Grandes Etudes S137/R2a (1837) represent the piano technique at its unprecedented maximum level of difficulty. Liszt himself reached here the virtuoso "culmen" of his own piano technique, still nowadays without comparison. In no other piano piece Liszt achieved such a "beyond the physical limits" technique.
The music by Franz Liszt, and especially this collection of studies, is always very difficult to be performed both technically and artistically, due to the gorgeous and marvellous musical ideas encased in a highly intricate technical structure often beyond the limits of the instruments themselves or of the human physical capabilities.
So often the musical performance becomes a sort of compromise: more art less technique or less art more technique, losing so the intrinsec richness of this music, where art and astonishing technique are the two equal pillars of the purity of the musical expression.
The difficulties of Franz Liszt's music have been always matter of discussion for scholars, performers, conductors, composers and musicologists: Schumann saw them (1837 version) as inaccessible in their difficulty; Saint-Saens wrote that Paganini remained in an unapproachable sphere where he alone could live, while Liszt, moving from the same level of difficulty, deigned to descend to those inhabited regions, where everyone, who wants to study seriously, can follow him; Ferruccio Busoni himself (one of greatest virtuosi of all time) wrote that the Grande Etude No. 10 (1837) presents almost insurmountable difficulties; Horowitz called "Feux Follets" the most difficult étude ever written and Sir Georg Solti noted that even the orchestral works by Liszt have many peculiar difficulties and are so particularly demanding when considering the symphonic performance.
Here the compromise: the difficulties are an obstacle to the clear and satisfactory exposition of the musical ideas and to the limpid phrasing, melodies remain opaque amidst a cascade of notes, indistinguishable and almost incomprehensible. This way we sometimes lose the great music of the "easier" Transcendental Etudes and, especially, of the Grandes Etudes, hidden behind the curtain of a complicated structure.
The Grande Etude No. 4 is certainly the most evident case. The required speed to make the melody clear with a real legato (Liszt writes "tenuto e ben marcato il canto") is so fast that it is almost impossible for a man to perform the music as Liszt wanted it to be performed.
With the musical technique used to perform music with this CD, it is possible for the first time, nearly two hundred years after Liszt, to listen to the Grandes Etudes with the right speed requested by Liszt himself, who wanted the astonishing beauty of his musical ideas to fully express itself through an exciting vortical speed.
When preparing the notes for an accurate and philological interpretation of the Grandes Etudes (1837), I respected the absolutely new and bizarre Liszt's prescriptions about the use of rubato, dynamics and expression.
In the Grandes Etudes Liszt used in fact a series of particular graphic signs, which point out an interesting link between rubato time and musical expression. These minute and precise signs (not present in 1851 Transcendental Etudes) are very useful to better understand how Liszt himself played his compositions.
If the Grande Etude No. 4 and the Grande Etude No. 10 are perhaps the most difficult ones, the Grande Etude No.8 is the very centre of the Grandes Etudes cycle, with its grand and symmetric monumental form.
The Grande Etude No. 1 is a very short impetuous Prelude (it is very similar to the version of Transcendental Etudes).
The Grande Etude No. 2 is a splendid Capriccio, with an exciting Paganini style. It is musically very different from the piece No.2 of Transcendental Etudes and it is much more difficult.
The Grande Etude No. 3, a tender and soft barcarola, has a virtuoso section "Presto agitato assai", not in the Paysage of Transcendental Etudes.
The Grande Etude No. 4 is the culmination of the grand technical fantasy of Franz Liszt. The initial mighty theme is almost technically impossible: the right speed is well beyond the human limits and the final sections are vigorous and colourful like fireworks,... but for the fingers. The first repeat of the main theme is beautiful and recalls the orchestral Symphonic Poem Mazeppa.
While the No. 4 is a challenge for the human resistance and co-ordination, the Grande Etude No. 5 is simply a more difficult version of Feux follets (and Feux follets, the "easier version", is often called the nightmare of piano players).
The first page of Grande Etude No. 6 is a terrific étude for the left hand only (Vision, the Transcendental Etudes version, is similar but the player can use both hands).
Grande Etude No. 7 is more difficult and is also deeply musically different from the Transcendental Etudes version, "Eroica", and it has even an entire section, the nice "Più animato ancora", then deleted by Liszt in the 1851 version.
A comparison between the initial theme of Grande Etude No. 8 and that of Wild Jagd shows the main difference between Grandes Etudes and Transcendental Etudes: in the first cycle Liszt's music is grand, gigantic and overflowing, in the second cycle concise, compact and succinct.
The Grandes Etudes writing shows also that the 1837 pianos needed a different way of notation to obtain certain effects, i.e. FFF, because the 1851 pianos had a different sound and resonance.
The Grande Etude No. 9 in fact sounds like the Transcendental Etude No. 9 Ricordanza, but actually there are many differences in writing: great and difficult chords of the Grande Etude have been transformed into a simple melodic line in the Transcendental Etude.
The Grande Etude No. 10 perhaps collects the hardest piano difficulties of all time in one piece only.
Jumps, speed, acrobatics and techniques for a large hand only (an amazing hand span of eleven notes is at least physically required to play certain passages with confidence and agility) are the bearing vaults of one of most beautiful and exciting pieces ever written for piano. A terrific "Presto feroce" precedes the marvellous finale.
Transcendental Etude No. 10 is much... much easier.
The Grande Etude No. 11 reveals some impressionistic painting atmospheres and explores new effects in timbre.
The Grande Etude No. 12 has two recitativo parts in perfect Liszt style and it is an exciting and whirling étude in tremolo effects, with a splendid melody.
Prism Variations on a Fragment of the Grande Etude No. 8 by Liszt (10 March 2012, for piano).
The Prism variations on a fragment of the Grande Etude No. 8 by Franz Liszt by Simone Jennarelli are developed, using two main themes and following the principles of Prismatic Music.
Such principles, developed by me through the years, leads to a sophisticated elaboration of harmonies and melodies: the enunciated themes are conducted this way, through prismatic refractions, to the full conquest of their potentialities.
A single light, when refracted by an iridescent prism, now reveals his hidden essence. Now do the musical themes, refracted by the prismatic elaboration, colourfully shine in their shimmering beauty.
The relations between melody and harmony is dynamic and flowing, gradually changing through shading variations.
The first theme is a fragment from the impetuous initial theme of the Grande Etude No. 8 by Liszt.
I have chosen this fragment because it is the very symbol of the conceptual difference between Grandes Etudes and Transcendental Etudes.
The second theme, sweet and mysterious, is actually derived from the same Liszt's theme, but it sounds so different that it's very difficult to determine its origin.
The whole formal development is based on the contrast between them at the very beginning of the piece, amidst an uninterrupted interweaving of musical metamorphoses.
In the last section, an homage to Franz Liszt is paid through a grand and epic transformation of the main theme. The great virtuoso passages for piano are themselves an homage to the revolutionary technique inventions of the composer of the Grandes Etudes 1837.
This CD has been recorded by Porticodoro/SmartCgArt Media Productions with the most advanced digital performing techniques available in the Music Industry.