"A splendid job!" - Dr. Leslie Howard (pianist and President of the Liszt Society)
Liszt’s composed the set of piano pieces "Weihnachtsbaum" (Christmas Tree) for piano solo from 1873 to 1876, and dedicated it to his granddaughter Daniela von Bülow (1860-1940). There were further revisions and arrangements by Liszt made from 1874 to 1881.
The work sits somewhat outside Liszt’s standard oevre in its simplicity, and stands just on the cusp looking out at the strange experiments of Liszt’s late style. Each movement is more of a fragment than a finished whole, exploring different aspects of Christmas from a highly original set of perspectives.
The suite falls into three broad sections: First is a set of 4 pieces based on Christmas Song, perhaps the "religious" side of Christmas. Second is a set of five more secular character pieces associated with Christmas, concluding with the best-known work from the suite "Evening Bells", which is forward-looking in its impressionistic atmosphere. And last are three dance-based pieces, highly enigmatically linked to Christmas: "Ehemals" (In Former Times), "Hungarian" and "Polish". The first is a nostaglic work, the second an abrasive and abrupt march, the third a emotionally ambiguous mazurka, perhaps linked to Liszt’s relationship with the princess Sayn-Wittgenstein.
This is an arrangement of the full suite for modern symphony orchestra.
The cuing of the mp3 here is approximately as follows:
I. Psallite: Altes Weihnachtslied (Psallite: Old Christmas song) 00:00
II. O heilige Nacht! Weihnachtslied nach einer alten Weise (O holy night! Christmas song on an old theme) 02:20
III. Die Hirten an der Krippe: In dulci jubilo (The shepherds at the manger: In dulci jubilo) 07:43
IV. Adeste Fideles: Gleichsam als Marsch der heiligen drei Könige (Adeste Fideles: as if it be the march of the Three Wise Men) 11:00
V. Scherzoso: Man zündet die Kerzen des Baumes an (Scherzoso: Lighting the Candles on the Tree) 14:38
VI. Carillon 17:21
VII. Schlummerlied (Slumber Song) 19:23
VIII. Altes provenzalisches Weihnachtslied (Old Provençal Christmas Song) 22:50
IX. Abendglocken (Evening Bells) 24:18
X. Ehemals (In former times) 30:20
XI. Ungarisch (Hungarian) 34:19
XII. Polnisch (Polish) 36:48
Reviews of FRANZ LISZT: Weihnachtsbaum (Christmas Tree) (arr. for symphony orchestra)
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