Thursday, October 3, 2013

Liszt, Horowitz, and Ibert - A Sneer; or, Simply, Having Great Fun?...

The  almost overwhelmingly familiar array of harmonies forming the introduction of Felix Mendelssohn's Wedding March has led me into an arena of  semi - serious pondering over  a trio of compositions; namely, "Divertissement" by Jaques Ibert and two piano transcriptions of the Wedding March. The Liszt transcription was begun, I believe, in 1849, and the Horowitz transcription about a century later.
Jaques Ibert was a fairly well known composer in  France, especially in the Parisian culture. One of his most popular compositions was his "Divertissement," which as the title implies,  bears witness to any  form of  opposition  to any serious  human issue. For example, in one section, he uses those famous harmonies from the Mendelssohn Wedding March, and interrupts these harmonies  with a fusillade of wah-wahs from the trumpet section, seemingly sticking a finger into the eye of Tradition.
Enter Franz Liszt with his pianist gymnastic based upon the Wedding March, transforming the Mendelssohn harmonies into a statement that forces the original concept of sanctity to disappear, and a call to arms to take its place.
In the Horowitz version, which is in reality additional terracing added to the Liszt incarnation, making it almost impossibly difficult, the great piano virtuoso (who never published his vaunted  transcriptions) seems to force the Mendelssohn harmonies to go marching off to war, with trumpets blaring and crowds cheering.
Were these three musicians simply having great fun with the Mendelssohn composition, or was it, at least fractionally,  a form of lampooning of  a timeless expression of the Sanctity of Marriage?
Just musing...

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