Hungarian Rhapsody No. 5 in E minor, S.244/5, Héroïde élégiaque
Professor Denis Pascal and student Rodolphe Menguy work on Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 5 in this piano masterclass.
Menguy is first instructed by his Professor to stay in touch with the tone of the piece: it is a very somber, dreary, and melancholic work, and the pianist must always remember that. The student is also told to pay attention to the rhythm and to avoid going too fast. Nuances must be respected, and all the details must be dealt with. Menguy must strive to be consistent and try to play “outside” of himself. Pedals are especially important, but Pascal explains that they cannot be too dry. Menguy should anticipate transitions better, be careful on his attacks, and be careful of his fingering and articulation. Lastly, Pascal explains that one must be always flexible and understand the emotions of the piece.
Understanding the emotional context of the piece.
Being as relaxed and flexible as possible without losing focus.
Anticipating the transitions and pay attention to the attacks.
Respecting a consistent tempo.
Fingering and articulation.
Liszt rose to prominence in his career as one of the finest Hungarian performers and composers. He never forgot his roots, and took care to represent his heritage by incorporating Hungarian folk melodies and rhythms into his music. In 1846, he began composing a set of piano pieces based on Hungarian music, many of which were later orchestrated. The set was not completed until 1885, and contains nineteen rhapsodies. Because Liszt was a nearly unparalleled virtuoso pianist, the pieces are unsurprisingly challenging. Many of the rhapsodies follow the same structure, beginning with an introduction followed by a lassan, which was slow music, and a friska, which was fast. Hungarian Rhapsody No. 5 is unique in that it does not follow this structure. Instead, the rhapsody remains dark in character and relatively slow in tempo throughout. Perhaps the most mournful of all the rhapsodies, it is lauded for its emotional depth.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this piano masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Denis Pascal's feedback and comments.
His monographic disc devoted to Jean Wiener for Sisyphe won a Diapason d'Or.
Denis Pascal performs in France and throughout the world as a soloist and chamber musician. He has made numerous appearances in the United States in venues such as: Lincoln Center and Merkin Hall in New York, Kennedy Center in Washington, Herbst Theater in San Francisco, and more, as well as in Asia: Yokohama Festival in Japan, Seoul, and in Europe in Palermo, Rome, Venice, Lisbon, Helsinki, Liepaja, Madrid, Valencia, etc. He is regularly invited in Germany to the prestigious Husum Piano Festival, where he performs the most audacious programs. In Paris, he has been applauded by audiences at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the Théâtre du Châtelet, the Théâtre de la Ville, the Salle Gaveau and the Opéra Garnier, as well as at numerous international festivals.
He has performed with the national orchestras of Lyon, Bordeaux, Besançon, Toulouse, and the Orchestre d'Auvergne. His concerts are well-thought-out: commited to maintaining a historical awareness of the repertoire, he often leaves the beaten track and gives concerts that are both striking and accessible to all, rigorously applying a consistent ethic to the Liszt repertoire, as well as to impressionist music and post-romantic scores.
Denis Pascal was appointed professor at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon in January 2010 and at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris in April 2011. Moreover, he has contributed to the elaboration of several didactic works in collaboration with the Cité de la Musique in Paris.
Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was a Hungarian composer, piano virtuoso, and educator, now regarded as one of the greatest pianists in history and a leader in the Romantic movement. His father was an amateur musician who began teaching Liszt the piano after noticing the young boy’s strong interest in music. It was apparent from an early age that Liszt’s talent was prodigious; by age eight, he had mastered most of the major piano works and had begun composing. Liszt’s father sacrificed his own work to take his son to study the piano with Carl Czerny in Vienna and to perform in concerts around Austria and Hungary. By 1823, Liszt had published his first composition and established a reputation for himself as a virtuoso.
In 1827, Liszt’s father unexpectedly died, leading to an aimless period in Liszt’s life where he taught piano for money but did little composing or performing. In 1830, after witnessing the French “July Revolution” and becoming acquainted with Berlioz and his music, particularly Symphonie Fantastique, Liszt was newly inspired as a musician. In 1832, he heard Paganini perform at a benefit concert, causing him to commit to becoming as successful a pianist as Paganini was a violinist.
Liszt toured Europe as a pianist for many years, achieving celebrity status in Europe and establishing a precedent for performance that pianists would follow for many years to come. In 1848, after meeting and falling in love with the Polish Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, he was persuaded to give up his performance career and take on the position of Kapellmeister at Weimar. There, he worked as a conductor, establishing many techniques that conductors still use today, helped promote the careers of composers such as Berlioz and Wagner, and composed. It was during this time that he created the form of a symphonic poem, a one-movement dramatic work with roots in sonata form and opera, and the compositional method “transformation of themes.” He also composed his B minor Sonata for piano, perhaps his best-known work.
After the death of two of his children, Liszt left Weimar for Rome, where he lived a quiet life in a monastery, becoming deeply involved in the church. However, he was eventually offered teaching posts in both Weimar and Budapest, leading him to split his time between those two cities and Rome. He never charged money for his lessons and became passionate about reforming musical education, particularly in Hungary. In 1881, Liszt’s health took a turn for the worse, leading to a period of depression, reflected in his compositions. He died of pneumonia in 1886, though his legacy in composition, education, and conducting all live on.