From the stage of the Bishop's School in La Jolla, Calif., NPR's Fred Child welcomes pianist Naida Cole, who plays the first of four Mephisto Waltzes by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt (1811-1886).
As Cole tells Child, the waltzes are based on a version of the Faust legend interpreted by Austrian poet Nicholas Lenau (1802-1850). Liszt's Waltz No. 1 tells a tale of an "all-nighter." Mephisto and Faust enter a village in the early evening and Mephisto picks up a violin. In a flash the entire village is dancing in a frenzy until dawn.
In addition to his skills as a composer, Liszt was a renowned pianist with, as Cole describes it, a diabolical streak. His works are virtuosic, exciting and nearly impossible to play, but Cole is clearly up to the challenge.