Tuesday, February 01, 2005

"Les cloches de Geneve: Nocturne"

"Les cloches de Geneve: Nocturne" from Album d'un voyageur by Liszt begins with a simple, haunting rhythmic pattern that ties the entire piece together. The three eighth notes form a sequence for the first 4 measures of the music that are transferred to the bass when the melody begins in the right hand. The piece has many PACs. The rhythm, however, never allows the resolutions to sound complete. This creates tension as the melodic line creeps higher in range. Just as the melodic line seems to be ready to resolve to g# minor as anticipated, the tonic is played as a G natural. After this tonal change in the major parallel key, the simple melody returns. The underlying rhythmic pulse makes the simplicity of the melody beautiful. Instead of finally ending this Lento section with an authentic cadence, it ends with a half cadence and the key quickly changes to the relative key of B Major. After such a long Lento section full of unresolved cadences, this half cadence seems even more agitating and ironic. The irony is that the piece has transitioned into a major key. Major keys are generally associated with peace-of-mind, but because of the way Liszt incorporated it, the feeling is quite opposite. The constant exploration of varied rhythms and tonal centers, added with the lack of clear phrases and cadences, make this piece a combination of "waterfallish" effects that are very pure like crystal while at the same time hitting one in the face with freezing cold water.


Scott Spiegelberg said...

Ooh, I like the imagery of the last sentence! This is a good journal entry.

Anonymous said...

Looking for inspiration on this piece for my end of year recital! Some lovely ideas to give me a fresh take on this work :) cheers