About this Recording
2.110239 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - ROME: Piazzas, Fountains and the Remains of Empire (NTSC)
English 

A Musical Tour of Rome
With music by Franz Liszt

 

CHAPTER 1

I. Pantheon • Via dei Fori Imperiali • Colosseum

It was in 104 BC that the victorious Roman general and consul Gaius Marius declared the Eagle to be the symbol of the Roman Senate and People, a symbol seen here at the start. The Pantheon was originally erected by Marcus Agrippa in 27 BC, but rebuilt in 126 AD under the Emperor Hadrian. In 609 AD it became a Christian church, dedicated to Santa Maria dei Martiri. Over the years it underwent various changes. Its dome served as an inspiration for the Duomo in Florence and many other buildings from the Renaissance onwards. It has served as the burial place of people distinguished in Italian life. Glimpses of Roman life and modern traffic are seen in narrower roads leading off the Via del Corso. The Egyptian obelisk, dating from the sixth century BC, was erected in the Piazza di Santa Maria sopra Minerva in 1667 by Bernini, who mounted it on an elephant sculpted by Ercole Ferrata. From the Piazza Venezia, with its imposing monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of unified Italy, with its colonnade and equestrian statue, the Via dei Fori Imperiali leads towards the Colosseum. This, the Flavian Amphitheatre, was founded by the Emperor Vespasian as a three-storey edifice, to which his son Titus added a further storey in 80 AD. It was the scene of gladiatorial combats until they were abolished by the Emperor Honorius in 404 AD, although displays involving the slaughter of wild animals continued. The building suffered in earthquakes and parts of it were purloined as building materials. It was dedicated to the Passion of Christ by Pope Benedict XIV in the eighteenth century, in memory of the Christian martyrs put to death there.

II. Roman Forum • Arch of Titus

The Roman Forum was established early in Roman history as the centre for public meetings and law courts. It was enlarged by Julius Caesar and further developed by Augustus and his successors. By the sixth century AD it had become a source of building materials for the new Rome. Nevertheless elements of the old forum still remain. From the forum the massive monument to Vittorio Emanuele II can be seen, while ancient remains include columns still standing and the Arch of Titus. Erected in 81 AD, after the death of the Emperor, it commemorates the sacking of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 AD and the triumph he celebrated on his return to Rome with booty taken from the Temple. The scene closes with a panoramic view of the city.

III. Arch of Constantine • Trajan’s Forum • Forum of Augustus Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II

The Arch of Constantine celebrates the victory of the first Christian Emperor over his rival Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 AD and was completed three years later. The sculptured reliefs on the arch are largely additions taken from other ancient monuments. Trajan’s Forum was built between 107 and 118 AD and was the most impressive of the various fora constructed under the Emperors. To the south-east is the Forum of Augustus, built by the first Emperor in thanks for his victory over the murderers of his uncle, Julius Caesar, at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC.

IV. Capitol • Equestrian Statues • Romulus and Remus Roman Forum

Standing on the most important of the seven hills of Rome, the Capitol held important ancient temples to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. On the site of the second of these now stands the church of Santa Maria d’Aracoeli, approached by a long flight of steps. To one side is the Capitoline Museum in the Piazza del Campidoglio, designed by Michelangelo. Statues of the Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux, are seen with their horses and there is an equestrian statue of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, were said to have been suckled by a wolf, commemorated in a statue. There is a panoramic view of the whole city and a brief return to the ruins of the ancient Forum Romanum

Music Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat major

I. Allegro maestoso – Tempo giusto

Liszt wrote the first version of his Piano Concerto No. 1 in 1832, at the start of his career as a virtuoso. He revised it in 1849, in Weimar, where he had settled in the previous summer, orchestrating the work with the help of his assistant Joachim Raff. He undertook further revisions in the following years in Weimar. Although divided into three movements, the concerto is virtually in one movement, its sections united thematically in various ways.

II. Quasi adagio

The Quasi adagio is linked to the following Allegretto vivace, providing a slow movement and quasi-scherzo. The piano presents music in the mood of a nocturne, against muted strings and later the woodwind.

III. Allegretto vivace

The second movement continues with an Allegretto vivace, the piano part marked Capriccioso scherzando. The orchestration was the object of contemporary criticism, making use, as it does, of a triangle, leading one critic to refer to the work as Liszt’s ‘triangle concerto’. The movement uses thematic material from the earlier part of the work.

IV. Allegro marziale animato

The last movement of the concerto again uses earlier thematic material duly transformed and developed. [Recording (all works) by Joseph Banowetz, piano, with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, conductor Oliver Dohnányi, from Naxos 8.550187]

 

CHAPTER 2

I. Piazza di Spagna • Piazza del Popolo • Ponte Sant’Angelo Castel Sant’Angelo

As with other great cities, Rome too is built around a river, the Tiber, with its many bridges, ancient and modern, and the Isola Tiberina, once known as the Island between Two Bridges. The Piazza di Spagna takes its name from the Palazzo di Spagna, the residence of the Spanish ambassador to the Vatican. A column in front of the palace commemorates the 1854 proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. The sun sets over the piazza, birds swarm as night approaches, and the outline of buildings and the Capitol are seen in silhouette. As day breaks the Piazza del Popolo appears. At the centre of the piazza, dating in its present form from the early nineteenth century, is an Egyptian obelisk and to the south and west are two domed churches, Santa Maria in Monte Santo and Santa Maria dei Miracoli, both dating from the seventeenth century. The Ponte Sant’Angelo dates originally from 136 AD, built by the Emperor Hadrian and then known as the Pons Aemilia. It is now adorned with statues of angels, following the design of Bernini. It leads to what was once the Mausoleum of Hadrian, Castel Sant’Angelo, which originally served as the burial place of successive Roman emperors.

II. Trevi Fountain • Piazza di Spagna • St Peter’s Square

The Trevi Fountain is the best known of Rome’s baroque fountains. Designed originally by Bernini, the present fountain, completed in the 18th century, has a statue of Neptune, with Health and Fertility represented by figures by his side. A custom has arisen of throwing a coin over one’s shoulder into the fountain to ensure one’s return to Rome. St Peter’s Square, the Piazza di San Pietro, was designed by Bernini in front of the great church of St Peter. This is built on the site of a basilica erected under the first Christian Emperor, Constantine, over the tomb of St Peter. The present building was started under Pope Julius II in 1506 by Bramante, succeeded by Raphael and later Michelangelo. At the side of the square are colonnades, with 140 statues of saints above. The central Egyptian obelisk dates from the reign of the Emperor Caligula, and was erected in the square in 1586. It has fountains on each side.

III. Piazza Navona

The Piazza Navona (Circo Agonale), laid out in the seventeenth century, is on the site of the Emperor Domitian’s stadium. It holds three fountains, two by Bernini. The central fountain, the Fontana dei Fiumi, represents the rivers Danube, Ganges, Nile and Plate, with an obelisk in the middle. The baroque church of Sant’Agnese in Agonale is on the west side of the piazza, with Santa Maria dell’Anima, the German church, to the north-west. As the sun sets, the great buildings of the Eternal City are seen silhouetted in outline.

IV. Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain, its name derived from the meeting-place of three roads, originally marked the end of an aqueduct built in 19 BC, bringing water to the city. The whole fountain is now seen.

Music Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 2 in A major

I. Adagio sostenuto assai – Allegro agitato assai

Liszt sketched the second of his two piano concertos in the early 1830s, completing the first version in 1839, with revisions in 1853, 1857 and 1861. It was first performed in Weimar in 1857. Like the first concerto it is virtually a one-movement work, although it is possible to distinguish six sections. The first two of these, the Adagio sostenuto assai, leading to an Allegro agitato assai, contain the first four themes, the first and last of which assume greater importance as the work proceeds.

II. Allegro moderato – Allegro deciso

There is a shift to E major for the Allegro moderato, which introduces a fifth theme. It starts, however, with the fourth theme, transformed into something meditative, leading to the first theme, with a solo cello set against the embellishments of the solo piano. This section, the equivalent of a slow movement, moves on to an Allegro deciso, with the fourth theme in a more aggressive form.

III. Marziale, un poco meno allegro

The Marziale, un poco meno allegro starts emphatically with a version of the first theme.

IV. Allegro animato

A piano cadenza leads to the final Allegro animato, with further thematic transformation, as the work reaches its triumphant conclusion.

 

CHAPTER 3

Colosseum and the Old Appian Way

The Colosseum is seen in the half-light, with its arched galleries and the chambers below the arena now revealed. There are glimpses of other Roman buildings, including the Arch of Constantine, the Ponte Sant’Angelo and the Castel Sant’Angelo, and the streets of the city by night. The Appian Way, straight as any Roman road must be, was constructed in 312 BC, running first from Rome to Capua, and later to Benevento and Brindisi. The road was lined with tombs, many of which survive in varied states of preservation, with the catacombs, the burial caves of Christians and pagans, nearby. The road passes by the Circus of Maxentius and the circular tomb of Caecilia Metella in its course. The Via Appia starts from the Porta San Sebastiano. Near another gate in the old city walls, the Porta San Paolo, is the remarkable tomb of Cestius, a pyramid in Egyptian style, built in the years 18–12 BC. There is a return to the Colosseum, revealing the labyrinth of chambers that originally lay beneath the arena, with the great building finally seen as darkness falls once more.

Music Liszt: Totentanz

Liszt’s Totentanz (Dance of Death) makes use of an earlier De Profundis (Out of the depths) and was worked out in 1839, to undergo revision in Weimar in 1853 and 1859. It is described as a paraphrase of the Dies irae (Day of Wrath), the sequence from the Mass for the Dead, music that provided a motif associated with death for many composers, from Berlioz to Rachmaninov. In Liszt’s work, said to have been inspired by a fresco of the Last Judgement by Orcagna that he had seen during a visit to Pisa, the theme appears in various guises in its six variations.


Keith Anderson


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