Valentina Lisitsa plays Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2

Liszt – Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 (Valentina Lisitsa)

Ukrainian-American classical pianist Valentina Lisitsa plays Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, S.244/2, the second in a set of 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies by Franz Liszt, and is by far the most famous of the set. Recorded live on May 22th, 2010 in Leiden, Holland.

The piece consists of two distinct sections.

The first is the lassan, with its brief but dramatic introduction. Although beginning on the C-sharp major triad, C-sharp minor is soon established as the home key. From this point on, the composer modulates freely, particularly to the tonic major and the relative major. The mood of the lassan is generally dark and melancholic, although it contains some playful and capricious moments.

The second section is the friska. It opens quietly in the key of F-sharp minor, but on its dominant chord, C-sharp major, recalling a theme from the lassan. The alternating dominant and tonic harmonies quickly increase in volume, the tempo gaining momentum as the Friska’s main theme (in F-sharp major) is approached. At this point, the Friska begins its journey of ever-increasing energy and pianistic bravura, still underpinned by alternating tonic and dominant harmonies. Modulations are limited almost exclusively to the dominant (C-sharp major) and the lowered mediant (A major). Before the final whirlwind of sound, a moment of calm prevails in the key of F-sharp minor, recalling another of the lassan’s themes, and is followed by the instruction, Cadenza ad lib. Finally, in the key of F-sharp major, there is a crescendo of prestissimo octaves, which ascend and then descend to cover almost the entire range of the keyboard and bringing the Rhapsody to a conclusion.

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