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FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886)    
Les jeux d’eau à la villa d’Este
Au lac de Wallenstadt
Au bord d’une source
“Auf dem Wasser zu singen” (Schubert – Liszt)
GABRIEL FAURÉ (1845 – 1924)    
Barcarolle No. 9 in A Minor, op. 101
Barcarolle No. 5 in F sharp Minor, op. 66
Barcarolle No. 3 in G flat Major, op. 42
Barcarolle No. 8 in D flat Major, op. 96
FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN (1810 – 1849)    
Prélude in D flat Major, op. 28 No. 15 “Raindrop”
MAURICE RAVEL (1875 – 1937)    
Jeux d’eau
CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862 – 1918)    
Reflets dans l’eau
Poissons d’or
L’Isle joyeuse
Total Time



Water Fantasies – Water-inspired Piano Music
Liszt - Fauré - Chopin - Ravel - Debussy
Eduard Stan, piano

Label: Hänssler Classic
Catalogue number: CD 98.436
Recorded: 30 September, 1/9 October 2002
Recording location: SDA Church Darmstadt-Marienhöhe, Germany
Piano: Steinway & Sons D, Hamburg
Programme notes: © Eduard Stan



Water Fantasies“ is the motto of this CD which gives a selection of piano works concerning water. Piano music, as it were “inspired by the sound of water and the musical whim of fountains, waterfalls and brooks” (Ravel says about his “Jeux d’eau”) – piano sounds allowing the imagination of the listener to wake with manifold associations: barques, islands, fish…

In the first three works, all from Liszt’s “Années de Pélérinage” (“Years of Pilgrimage”), the composer lets us participate in his travelling experiences in Italy and Switzerland via tone painting. The “Jeux d’eau à la villa d’Este” describe an Italian garden in which the springs and fountains bloom instead of the flowers… In a prophetically visionary way Liszt is already anticipating Impressionism and lets us foreshadow Ravel’s “Jeux d’eau” or Debussy’s “L’Isle joyeuse”. The score contains an interesting quotation from St. John’s gospel with which the composer shifts the theme “water” into religious realms: “Whoever drinks the water that I will give him will become in him a spring which will provide him with life-giving water and give him eternal life.” (St. John 4,14) In any case there are obvious allusions to literature as regards the romantic subject. Thus Lord Byron’s lines “…thy contrasted lake / With the wild world I dwell in, is a thing / Which warns me with its stillness, to forsake / Earth’s troubled waters for a purer spring” preface the scenery of the lake of Wallenstadt (“Au lac de Wallenstadt”), and also the crystal-clear spraying “At a spring” (“Au bord d’une source”) – that has a famous predecessor in Beethoven’s “Szene am Bach” from his Pastoral Symphony – is anticipated in literature in Schiller (“In murmuring coolness the play of young Nature begins”). Following this example Ravel uses a quotation from Henri de Régnier for his Jeux d’eau: “River god laughing at the water, which tickles him…”

The following pieces are “To be sung on the water” – the wonderful Lied by Schubert, with the same name (“Auf dem Wasser zu singen”), has been transcribed by Liszt as poetically and effectively for the piano – and the “Barcarolles” (Italian – barca: barque, gondola), they were originally the barge songs made up by the Venetian gondoliers, which they sung on their gondola trips as in the street. As pieces for singing and instruments stylized at an early stage to art music, they are mainly based on a 6/8 beat and are thereby associated with the rocking movement of a boat or the regularity of an oar-beat. Fauré, whose piano music is today unjustly neglected by pianists, had a preference for this genre. His 13 Barcarolles –originating within a period of almost forty years – go through his work like a red thread, and their variety is fascinating: here the gloomy monotony of. No. 9, there the very special, rhythmically harmonious refinement in No. 5, the magical hovering between major and minor in No. 3, or the playful nonchalance of No. 8.

Although never confirmed by the composer, the D flat Prelude is known as the “Raindrop” Prelude, which originated in the winter of 1838/39 in the Valdemosa cloister of Majorca, in which Chopin, ill, was frightened to death according to tradition by a dangerously bad storm: “The prelude was… full of raindrops echoing onto the sounding tiles of the cloister; in his phantasy these drops had however changed into tears, falling from the sky into his heart.” (George Sand in “Histoire de ma vie”)

With his “Jeux d’eau” Ravel introduced water as a central motive in the music of Impressionism. This becomes particularly clear in the recapitulation of the piece where ripping arabesques seem to trace the eternally restless element of water now with gentle now with mighty pearling rain. No great imagination is necessary to compare the following tone paintings from Debussy’s pen pictorially with masterpieces of Impressionism in painting, e.g. of Monet: Imagine how alive Debussy’s goldfish (“Poissons d’or”, 1907), for example, swim around in Monet’s garden among his “water lilies” – one of the leitmotivs in Monet’s work – or how plastically the painter catches reflections in water (“Reflets dans l’eau”) in his famous “Bridge at Argenteuil” (“Le pont d’Argenteuil”). Both piano pieces of Debussy’s come from a collection with the meaningful title “Images”...
Finally the composer takes us away to the “Happy Isle” (“L’Isle joyeuse”) full of exalted rhythms, which increase in a true exaltation of sound and lead us to an ecstatic climax.

© Eduard Stan



“This compilation of nature descriptions by means of the water element has been long overdue: Composers such as Liszt, Fauré, Chopin, Ravel or Debussy have written corresponding works, which the Romanian pianist Eduard Stan renders with a lot of atmosphere.

The enumeration of those composers points to a common style which was basically pursued in France, the impressionism…

Pianist Eduard Stan, a Transylvanian award-winner of various prizes, brings out the sounding stream most subtly. He succeeds in modelling sound values and moods, condensing them to extreme tensions despite his apparent lightness of playing.

In particular, he manages to put the listener into a meaningful relationship with the subject of water: you listen to a lucidly lapping murmur and flow…”

teb (author), 28 May 2003

Water-inspired Piano Music

“Many composers drew their inspiration from the element of water. The pianist Eduard Stan now presents an interesting CD titled “Water Fantasies”, which mostly comprises well-known repertoire on this subject… Stan proves himself to be a sophisticated pianist, rather seeking to conjure subtle shades than bulky effects. This is of as great value in the Fauré Barcarolles as it is in Debussy’s “Reflets dans l’eau” or Ravel’s “Jeux d’eau”.”

Tw (author), April 2004


Water Fantasies – Water-inspired Piano Music
Liszt - Fauré - Chopin - Ravel - Debussy
Eduard Stan, piano