Litolff: Scherzi and other piano works
Litolff: Scherzi and other piano works
- 132 pages (125 containing music).
- The (once) famous Scherzo from the 4th Concerto Symphonique and similar works.
- Introductory essay.
- Printed on heavy duty eco-friendly sustainable paper (120 gsm).
- Also available as download.
What’s it like?
Style. Litolff's music sounds as one imagines a child of Mendelssohn and Liszt: the tingling energy and lightness of Mendelssohn, combined with the pianistic superpowers of Liszt. It is concertante music that allowed Litolff to emerge as the ultimate master virtuoso.
Character. The music is joyful and light. Litolff is averse to sentimentality, nor does he appeal to cheap emotions to present himself as an artist. The musical content of the works is closely intertwined with the technical sophistication of his piano playing. He incorporated numerous inventions into his music.
Technique. Litolff's technique does not resemble that of other well-known virtuosos. Whereas the predecessors of his generation mainly used scales and his contemporaries let themselves speak with thundering octaves, he chooses his own path. A path littered with parallel intervals, lightning-fast figurations and great leaps. His music is intended for pianists with flawless technique.
Originality and quality. Litolff's music is largely well put together. It is music with little pretension, but nevertheless it excels in originality. No profundity, but mirth. The Scherzi are pieces characterised by humour and cleverness. Two of them are named after burgundian pastimes: bacchanal and hunting. The music avoids clichés. The only thing one could criticise it for is its high degree of virtuosity. Even his contemporaries sometimes noticed this.
Difficulty. Litolff's music is very difficult. Besides the fact that most of it has to be played at lightning speed, it is important that the music sounds light and humorous. The Tarantelle calabraise is well playable. The Scherzo op. 115 is also within the reach of many amateurs. The other works are more difficult.
This 132-page album contains the following eight works.
Scherzo de 4me Concerto Symphonique. This is by far Litolff's best-known work. It can be summarised as "Mendelssohn on steroids". It is a highly successful composition that can be played independently. A concert transcription specially produced for this edition allows the advanced pianist to play this work without orchestra. In the process, care has been taken to preserve Litolff's original piano part. The orchestral part is subtly woven into it. Difficulty: 10/10.
Scherzo. For those for whom Litolff's famous Scherzo from the Fourth Concerto Symphonique is too difficult, this is an excellent alternative. It contains the same infectious virtuosity, yet is kinder to the pianist. The coda builds to an insane climax. Difficulty: 9/10.
Scherzo “Le Bacchanale”. Whoever plays this Scherzo hears the joyful debauchery of a bacchanal. The central part consists of a very catchy march. Difficulty: 9/10.
La Chasse. A Scherzo in all but name, this is a wondrous composition. The pumping rhythm in 6/8 provides an infectious drive, the melody is entirely in intervals. In the challenging middle section, the left hand plays in 2/4, while the right hand maintains 6/8 and vice versa. After a stormy passage, the theme returns in 6/8. Difficulty: 9/10.
Les Octaves. This is rightfully a Morceau de Concert, in which Litolff avoids few difficulties. This starts already with the theme, in which risky octave leaps are used. The middle movement is written on 3 bars. It is a march of orchestral proportions. The coda contains the same technical inventions as the Concerti Symphoniques, especially the first movement of the second concerto and the fourth movement of the fourth. The ending is breathtaking. Difficulty: 10/10.
Grand Caprice. This is Litolff's interpretation of an opera paraphrase. He chooses Meyerbeers Robert le Diable. It is unmistakably Litolff, from the feathery runs in the introduction to the exaggerated virtuosity at the end. Like Liszt, he tries to make more of it than a succession of catchy tunes. It is a composition in which the themes of the opera are forged into a compact narrative. Difficulty: 10/10.
Tarantelle calabraise. After all the technical display of the previous works, the Calabrian tarantella is a welcome change. A technically modest work, it was used by Litolff himself as an encore. Difficulty: 7/10.
Rhapsodie hongroise. Since Litolff has been called "the English Liszt ", it is nice to include a work in this volume that bears the same title as one of Liszt's most famous (and infamous) compositions. It follows the familiar pattern of a slow, rhapsodic introduction and a lightning-fast second movement. It is part of several impressions Litolff made during his wanderings through Europe. Difficulty: 10/10.
Our paper editions are pleasing to the eye: gorgeous and heavy cream paper produced in an environmentally friendly manner. We print our albums ourselves and use pigmented ink instead of toner. Due to the ink soaking into the paper, a beautiful print is created. All our albums are bound with a steel binding spine, so the albums last a long time and stand perfectly flat on the piano.