Feux Follets

Wonderfully evocative title, isn’t it?! Liszt’s Transcendental Etude No 5 is enhanced by this; the imagination gets to work as well as the fingers.

Feux Follets, in B Flat Major after the dark D minor of Mazeppa, opens leggero/leggerissimo with lightly swirling chromatics and diminished 7ths. All seems manageable – but then the real technical point is introduced – RH double notes, not neatly divided into a study in either 3rds or 6ths, as Chopin’s double note studies are, but an interlocking cat’s cradle of different intervals. The original (below) was just single notes:

Nor is the left hand allowed to be idle; it is soon engaged in springy leaps of up to two octaves, quasi pizzicato, cleverly written to include an acciaccatura on the upper note, giving a rhythmic kick to the arrival, added colour – and a greater chance of landing successfully, aiming for a cluster of two notes instead of just one.

A rough translation for Feux Follets is ‘Will-o’-the wisps’, referring to mysterious lights which lead unwary travellers off well-trodden paths into treacherous marshes. Quite. Although there are big moments in the piece, overall it needs a gossamer lightness, airy transparency, speed and control. It ends with a delicate halo of sound emulating the flickering , tantalizing lights of the Feux Follets. Enchanting.

Here is Lugansky –

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This entry was posted in Liszt - Studying the Etudes - Transcendental Etudes, and Paganini Caprices and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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