“A Revolutionary Symphony”
Pianist Pål Eide explains why he finds the music by Franz Liszt from the 1880s particularly interesting. The period was an exciting one in European culture, and Liszt was one of the first artists to understand the streams of modern times. Liszt´s works had a great influence on later music, also film and jazz genres.
”With my CD Grey Clouds I wish to focus on the astonishing development from the romantic period to what we call modern music. Franz Liszt is famous for being the greatest piano virtuoso of all time, reforming piano technique, but in his last years he writes some calm and mysterious pieces in which he makes the sense of Major and Minor disappear. There is no longer a central tone and the music becomes more unpredictable. In particular the piece “Nuages gris” or “Grey Clouds” may be seen as a basis for later impressionistic masterpieces by Debussy and Ravel and also inspired Stravinsky, who introduced two tonalities at the same time, combined with extreme rythms, and is even today , more than a hundred years later, by many considered a “modern” composer.
With this CD I hope to create a kind of “revolutionary symphony”, where one can hear the works as movements in a greater context, while immersing in the music itself, and get a sense of how the composers influence each other, creating a new kind of music, or like Scriabin would have said; A new world.”
Pål Eide, 2016
I love to listen to old recordings! When artists used to have to play everything in one take, before technical developments made editing possible, recordings were more organic, more like a concert, and more touching – unlike typical modern recordings where hundreds of small cuts are put together to make everything perfect. So when I made this recording, it was important to me to make it sound more like a live event. I was therefore thrilled to meet my producer Helmut Burk who arranged a recording session in Friedrich- Ebert-Halle in Hamburg, where Deutsche Grammophon makes most of their recordings. I played through the entire pieces while my producer listened in a sideroom. Sometimes, after I had been playing for an hour or so, I wondered if he was still there, if he had gone home, or perhaps fallen asleep. But every time I talked to him through the microphones, his calm voice answered: “Don´t worry, I´m still listening!” The composer Jesper Koch has had a big impact on me as a musician, with his insistence on a continuous struggle for perfection. When Jesper heard me play Arne Nordheim’s piece “Listen”, he asked me: “Why don´t you play Bach?” Nordheim’s music is similar to Bach in that it is very distinct, and has different voices at the same time, only in a modern language. I started out playing The English Suite No. 2, and the following year I played only Bach´s music, including many of his greatest works. It was like a drug for me! Before recording “Listen” I wrote Arne Nordheim a letter, asking if I could play it for him. One late Saturday evening, while I was practicing in the little pavillon in our garden, my wife brought me the telephone and said: “Arne Nordheim is asking you to visit him in a few days.” I went to Norway, and he met me at the door of his home, and the first thing he said to me was: ”I LOVE MUSIC!” This meeting was a great inspiration to me. Nordheim’s music gives the word “Listen” a new meaning. You really keep quiet and listen, something you often don’t do in modern life, even with music. And while listening, what happens? If you really listen, the music goes on by itself! It was not until I lived in Moscow, that I really started to understand Rachmaninov´s music. Until then I had been influenced by the general opinion of many European schools of music, namely that his music is all about virtuosity and that it is sentimental. Listening to Rachmaninov´s music in his home country, I realized that it is not at all sentimental – it is about real feelings. No other pianist has touched me as much as Rachmaninov on his own recordings. Thanks for listening!
Pål Eide, 2010