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3rd Mephisto Waltz

Discussion in 'Repertoire' started by chopinman0901, Mar 23, 2007.

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Do you think that the Mephisto Waltzes should be considered waltzes?

  1. Yes!

    0 vote(s)
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  2. No!

    0 vote(s)
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  1. chopinman0901

    chopinman0901 New Member

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    Can anybody explain this mystery to me? I was looking at the sheet music for Liszt's 3rd Mephisto Waltz, and I noticed that it was in common time!! How is it even a waltz? I thought it was bad enough that none of the Mephisto Waltzes sound like waltzes, but they don't even have the correct time signature too? Why didn't he just call them Mephisto Caprices?
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Good point you have there. I never heard the nr.3, but from the look of it on paper, it's got no claim at all to the name Waltz. As you rightly say the first does not sound like one either, despite that it's (mostly) in triple meter. A mystery ! Perhaps Liszt being cheeky ?
     
  3. chopinman0901

    chopinman0901 New Member

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    I've actually never heard it either, except for a midi version of it on classicalarchives.com. The only one's I have actually heard performed by a person are the first and the fourth, but neither of them sound like waltzes. And neither do any of the Valses Oubliees for that matter, all of which I've heard. Kind of surprising I could never find the second or third Mephisto Waltz considering I have about 900 classical works in my iTunes library.
     
  4. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Perhaps the "Waltz" is misleading because you are thinking in musical terms. Instead think in poetic terms:

    "Though devoutly religious, Liszt was fascinated by the demonic, and several of his most remarkable compositions are patently diabolical in character. The most famous is the M.W #1 written in 1859-60. This 'waltz' is really a tone poem for piano, one whose program, by the expatriate Hungarian writer Nikolaus Lenau, is a gloss on Goethe's Faust.
    In Lenau's poem, Faust and Mephistopheles happen upon a wedding party in the countryside. Seizing a fiddle, the devil proceeds to whip the dancers into an erotic frenzy. Faust pairs off with a young girl, and their dancing soons leads them to a nearby wood. There they embrace warmly as a nightingale sings nearby and Mephistopheles' fiddle sounds in the background. The composer cleverly begins with the sounds of the devil turning his fiddle, a passage whose harmonies seem more typical of a 20-th century piece than one of the Romantic era." {Source: Time Life Music- Great Composers Franz Liszt CD:B, Jorge Bolet piano}

    So Liszt used the waltz time to mimick the dance of the devil in Lenau's poem.
     
  5. chopinman0901

    chopinman0901 New Member

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    That makes sense I guess. But what's the excuse for the Valses Oubliees?
     
  6. arensky

    arensky New Member

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    The Mephisto Waltzes seem to me to be country dances that evolve into orgiastic tone poems, all based on the program supplied by Juufa. Liszt was clearly obsessed with this program as he set it four times, and there is also a Mephisto Polka! Never heard that, though. There's this idea of the worldly sophisticated travelers barging in on a bunch of hicks partying, and they transform the happening into one of their own fashion, using music as the supernatural aphrodisiac. Who says Victorian times were prudish? :wink:

    I think Liszt is using the idea of the Waltz, THE dance of the 19th Century, as a metaphor for sex. The Valses Oubliees (late pieces) are perhaps the old man remembering episodes from his youth. At any rate these are stylized waltzes, not waltzes a la Strauss, Schubert or even Chopin.The waltz is now a symbol for you know what. :D

    That's just my random opinion, though.

    As for the poll, no, in terms of what a waltz actually is; a dance piece. These are something else entirely.
     
  7. chopinman0901

    chopinman0901 New Member

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    Wow, that was a great piece of insight. Thank you! Definitely right about them being something else entirely. I have always loved Liszt's waltzes like Valse Melancolique and the very "waltzy" Valse-Impromptu, but it just kind of bothered me that the Mephisto Waltzes and Valses Oubliees didn't sound like what I feel is a waltz. I guess it can be a matter of opinion.
     
  8. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Polka anyone? (You can hear a live performance of it on Classicalarchive.net )
     
  9. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Wow. I don't think I'll ever be able to listen to a Waltz again without thinking of this.
     

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