Huit Variations

-ded. Monsieur Sebastien Erard
-family friend and piano maker

-piece contains thema section, and eight variations of it - cyclical
-all of them are in Ab major except for var. 6
-all except the 8th variation are in AABB form, binary
-4 bar phrasing
-there is always a second ending
-tons of expressive dynamics, especially sf and pp
-many glissandos and grace notes
-Liszt loves his dim 7 chords
-very tonal, but there are many little dissonances, very expressive
-some unusual chords and harmonies – Reicha’s influence??
-all in 2/4

-each variation is at least harmonically based on the theme, but each seems to have a unique rhythmic pattern that is constant throughout the variation.

-rhythm = q, e, e, q, q
-the main theme is harmonically simple at first, I ii6, I64, V, I6, vi(?), IV, I
-upon repetition of it, mm 5, he gives several fully diminished 7th chords (which he seems to really like
-mm 5, eb7dim, FM, b7dim, f#7dim
-climax of the piece in the penultimate measure
-if it weren’t for the unusual chords and virutuosity, this four part writing style would seem a little church-like

VAR. 1
-the left hand is almost exactly the same as the bass in the thema
-melody is in the top voice in a repeated dotted eight, sixteenth pattern, and that is the distinctive pattern in this variation
-left hand retains the q e e q from thema
-little faster than thema
-has a lot of accent marks and slurs, Liszt was very detailed with his dynamics and articulation
-dynamics here also mirror the dynamics of the thema movement
-same chords as thema, pretty much
-binary form
-cadence extension at end of A – second time
-really lends itself to rubato
-when rhythm changes at 42 with tied note in top voice, it is very noticeable, and becomes a minor climax
-B is elaboration of A
-faster than last piece, e = 138
-interesting: top hand instructed to always play legato, bottom, always staccato
-rhythmic pattern here is definitely the … 6lets??
-top hand retains the basic rhythm of the theme, so it sounds like its in duple and triple meter at the same time
-another cadence extension at end of A (2nd time), and B as well
-left hand does not only arpeggiate, it also plays octaves and scales. The variation makes this one constantly engaging

-Liszt takes the theme, and augments it, then surrounds it with 32nd notes. The notes from the principal theme land on the strong beats (I feel like there is some way to describe that better)
-very clever!
-the quick 32nd notes are very virtuostic, and the distinguishing rhythmic pattern of this piece
-left hand is just kind of blocking out the chords in eight notes
-detailed articulation, less dynamic instruction
-again, penultimate measure of each section seems to be the climax
-very large range! Utilizes mainly upper register of piano – probably a thank you to Erard

-this one sounds religious to me, more serious
-mostly just block chord quarter notes
-much more dissonance, plenty of major 2nds and dim 7 chords
-A stays quiet and pensive, B has many fluctuations in dynamic, but ends in p
-sticks to progression from thema
-attention is mostl kept in descending line in bass

(like this one a lot!)
-rhythmic distinction: alternating eight and sixteenth notes between hands
-many ornamented chromaticisms
-hand crossing – showy for performances
-very arpeggiated
-showy, quick, staccato note jumps

-this one really reminds me of Beethoven’s moonlight sonata
-key of Ab minor – but same progression as thema – i, ii, i, etc . .
-dark, arpeggiated chords, lower middle range of the piano
-pattern: ascending 32nd notes
-extended passagework in B part
-rhythm only changes in mm 156, into triplets, and I think its supposed to be the climax (it sounds awkward on the recording I’m listening to, and it could just be a bad performer)
-156 triplet measure also breaks the 4 bar phrasing

-fugal entrances of theme – beings in top hand a measure after bottom
-creates more dissonance, more 2nds, even in the first 4 measures
-B is nearly the same as the original thema, but with more bass and ornamentation

Totally the best one
-unlike others, does not stay the same throughout
-beginning, right hand playing triplet 16th notes
(reminds me of hyper 14 year old)
-first section keeps same chord progression of thema
-second section breaks the 4 bar phrase pattern with extended passages of contrasting measures
-abrupt change in mm 201, tremolos (sorry, I’m not sure that’s the right word when its played on the piano) in bottom hand, block chords in top, very tense
-abrupt key changes, highly chromatic, controlled dissonances
-new key of EM at 211, another new section, based on thema, of course
-begins running 16th note pattern
-highly virtuosic, of course
-this variation much, much more complicated than the others
-contains rhythmic patterns reminiscent of other variations in the set
-contains an encouraging and elaborate, long cadenza ad libitum, two trills and a fermata
-ends with restatement of theme in home key