προϊόντα στο καλάθι
The furnace used by alchemists in their search for the philosopher’s matter is indispensable for the maturation of the Great Work. By extension, this furnace, in the shape of a matrix, has become a symbol of their quest for perfection and the absolute. Who does not dream of turning base metals into gold? True alchemists spun out the metaphor and searched not for aurum vulgum but for spiritual fulfilment. And that is where Liszt agreed with them. Eternally dissatisfied, he said that ‘the persistent search for the best possible characterises the true artist’. This search not only had an aesthetic dimension but was also of a moral order, as attest his homage to Paganini: ‘The artist’s role is to awaken and maintain in souls the enthusiasm and passion of Beauty, so close to the passion of Good’.
Why bring together these three works on the same programme? All three were, of course, written for piano and large orchestra. The concertos are both striking for their brevity – compared with other Romantic concertos – as well as the unbroken linking of their movements. Totentanz is in a somewhat different form, being a set of variations on the Gregorian Dies irae theme (based on the Prose of the Dead), but is also of short duration and played without pause.
However it seems to me that there is a strong link between them beyond form. Their joint particularity is their very long gestation: it took 23 years between the first sketch and public performance of the first Concerto, 22 years between the earliest sketches and definitive publication of the second, and 20 years between the rough draft of Totentanz and the version recorded here