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  • Writer's pictureAyanthi Anandagoda

Adolph von Henselt: Repos d'amour

The unjustly neglected genius composer Adolf von Henselt (1814-1889) was one of the greatest virtuosi of the nineteenth century.

"His trail-blazing études that are impossibly challenging for the performer and ardently lyrical for the listener – were to influence a generation of composers, especially in Russia where Henselt settled. Having studied with Hummel in Weimar, the ‘Henselt piano technique’ is now regarded as the link between that of the older composer and that to be developed by Franz Liszt. Notorious for his ability to play unfeasibly wide-spreading chords while maintaining a miraculous legato line, Henselt’s fanatical devotion to technical pianistic exercises should come as no surprise. The two sets of études represent the codification of his diligence, yet their worth today derives as much from their musical value as their technical complexity.

"‘Repos d’amour’ Love’s Repose is a leisurely moving ‘song without words’ featuring a characteristic melody in the tenor register shared between the hands. With the arrival of the middle section, the soprano voice, hitherto an accompaniment, develops its own little song which, over the tenor, burgeons into an effective duet. There is an obvious connection between this étude and the second of Clara Schumann’s Trois Romances pour le piano, Op 11 (Dresden, November 1838)."

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