1. Die Stadt
2. Das Fischermädchen
4. Am Meer
6. In der Ferne
8. Ihr Bild
11. Der Atlas
12. Der Doppelgänger
13. Die Taubenpost
14. Kriegers Ahnung
In 1839 composer Franz Liszt did a transcription of Franz Schubert's
final song set, known under the title Schwanengesang ("Swansong"). The
songs were written by Schubert a few months before his death and were
taken from a set published in 1829 by Tobias Haslinger. There is some
doubt as to whether the songs were intended to constitute a song cycle
at all, at least in the same way as the songs of Die Winterreise were meant
to be a cycle. And there is also some question as to what songs were to
be included even if they had been thought of as a set — "Die Taubenpost"
might have been thrown in for reasons known only to Haslinger. The title
Schwanengesang was invented by Haslinger. It is in fact an appropriate title
— although one might very well make the claim that everything written
by Schubert in the last year and a half of his life could bear that title.
But none of that really makes any difference. With a great love for
Schubert's music Liszt took the 1829 set and from it made a new unity.
Under Liszt's pen this set might very well be renamed Songs of the
Black Swan. Schubert's late sadness is here ("Am Meer" contains echoes
of the B-flat Major sonata), pushed in this transcription to the lengths
of Romantic era chromaticism. One can only wonder what novel musical
worlds Schubert may have traveled if he had lived a normal life-span.
But that was not to be.
It is a great work — I have fallen in love with it. And Liszt-era works
like this are Valentina's forte. Which makes it even better. Putting
the work on the television almost makes me feel like one of those rich
or royal patrons of old, who would have a great pianist come in to perform
for them and their friends. Of course I don't have any friends to do that,
but that is a whole other story. And of course there's the fact that
Valentina's big Bosendorfer would take up my entire living room. Oh
well. Play, Valentina, play! And I will give you a jeweled cup with
coins of gold! — or at least the money I spent on the DVD.
And incidentally, Lisitsa was about the same age when this DVD was
issued (2005) as Schubert was when he died. I don't have any facts to
back it, but I doubt that is a coincidence. Or if it is, it is a very
Lisitsa in a rather Lisztian moment.