Franz Liszt (1811 – 1886)
Malédiction for piano and string orchestra R.452

Sergej Rachmaninov (1873 – 1943)
Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini for piano and orchestra  op. 43

Antonín Dvořák (1841 – 1904)
Eighth Symphony in G major op. 88

Malédiction for piano and string orchestra R.452 by Franz Liszt
The composition of Malediction occupied Liszt since 1830 and was the subject, like the Concertos, of continuous rethinking and filings up to 1863, even after the composer’s withdrawal from concert activity in 1849. In vain looking for a union between Classicism and spirit of Romanticism, Malediction attests to this attempt through overwhelming solutions in which the principle of thematic metamorphosis expanded into the line of cyclical form presides over the construction by unhinging the usual pattern in several tempos, in a single movement. Malediction takes its title from the impressive initial theme – whose subsequent themes are defined as “pride”, “tears – anguish – dreams” and “joke” – and achieves a perfect balance between musical and technical substance, on the one hand between the need for variety and contrast and organicity on the other.

Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini for piano and orchestra op. 43 by Sergej Rachmaninov
It belongs to the Russian composer’s mature period and ranks among the works endowed with formal rigour, unknown in the period spent in Russia but revealed during the years of his tour in Europe and America. This is due to the choice of genre, the theme with variations, which imposes strict constraints. With Rhapsody Rachmaninov renews a glorious tradition; contains the natural exuberance in twenty-three pieces, based on Capriccio n. 24 by Paganini and features a technique of extraordinary beauty.

Based on a now obsolete procedure, the first variation anticipates the entry of the leading motif, which stands out in the four initial pieces in Allegro vivacious tempo. However, the exposition that follows does not respond to the original guise of the theme and Rachmaninov does not hesitate to loosen the ties to make room for passages of pure skill also entrusted to the inspiration of Giuseppe Albanese. Considered globally, Rhapsody tends to bring together various effects not only to bring out an explosive technique but also to deepen the sonorities: for example from the “pizzicato” of the twenty-ninth variation to the suffused timbre of the twelfth, from the superb gait of the octave to the granicity of the fourteenth note, not to mention the seventh and tenth variations in which Rachmaninoiv sends a “disturbing” message with a reference to the Dies irae.

Eighth Symphony in G major op. 88 by Antonín Dvořák
Among Dvořák’s various compositions, this Symphony belongs to one of the composer’s most serene and creative periods, pervaded as they were by a feeling of joy and serene acceptance of existence. Begun in the summer of 1889, it was completed in November of the same year. The first performance took place in Prague under the direction of Dvořák himself in November 1890. With the Octave the composer wanted to create something absolutely different from all his previous compositions “with individual thoughts, elaborated in a new way” as he himself wrote . The result was an enchanted and fairy-tale work in the key of G major, very unusual for the classical-romantic tradition. Without losing sight of the reference to Slavic folk song, in this Symphony he experiments with new formal and thematic solutions with ample space reserved for solo interventions of the first parts. From the opening movement (Allegro con brio) in slow tempo, which sees the flute expound the main theme, a sort of Naturlaut (voice of nature), an impulse full of lyricism and festivity develops. We then move on to an Adagio, a serene and tranquil page, pastoral and festive; the Scherzo (a waltz in G minor) imbued with sweetness and melancholy precedes the Trio in G major on a melody from one of his comic operas Tvrdé palicé and leads to the Finale which closes the Symphony.

The Production

Musiche di Franz Liszt, Sergej Rachmaninov, Antonín Dvořák
Piano Forte Giuseppe Albanese

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