Cast in a single rhapsodic sweep, Liszt’s Piano Concerto No.2 could be described as a miniature three-movement work followed by an expansive fantasy. It is built almost entirely on a single theme and the effect is virtually seamless as it metamorphoses into many varied characters—yearning, solemn, martial, sensuous, serene and heroic. The Second Symphony might be described as Brahms’ “Pastoral”. Its song-like melodies are pervaded by a gentle and lyrical quality – in their simple beauty the themes give the impression of having been written down as a result of spontaneous inspiration. Similarly, Elgar said the music for his colourful tone poem came to him “in a flash” while walking by an ancient Roman road and that all that remained was to simply “write it down”. It is a magnificent musical tribute to the glory of Italy and the country’s natural beauties.
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