Malagigi the Sorcerer is a piece that develops from the romanticism of mythical stories. This one in particular comes from the legends of Charlemagne (1). Rinaldo, nephew of Charlemagne and appointed knight by the Emperor "eager to go in pursuit of glory .... took the way to the forest of Arden". He is soon enough informed by an old man (Malagigi in disguise) of an untamable horse, Bayard, that lives in the Arden forest and which "had been held under enchantment by the power of a magician (Malagigi himself), who predicted that, when the time came to break the spell, it should be subdued by a knight of the lineage of Amadís of Gaul (his former owner), and not less brave than he." Rinaldo eventually succeeds, after a mortal combat with Bayard, in proving himself worthy of such magnificent legacy.
The first movement, The Enchantment, focuses on the spell itself. It has two main sections of which the first evokes the actual moment when Malagigi while in trance, calling upon his magic, casts the spell on Bayard. The second section is a fugue and depicts the struggle of Bayard's will against Malagigi's spell. Bayard then succumbs to the enchantment in a peaceful manner. The second movement, Arden Forest, has three main sections. It opens with a flute cadenza depicting the environment in the forest, mainly birdcalls. There will be a transition to a faster and exasperated second section where the flute depicts the inner feelings of the horse, such as being trapped forever. The flute cadenza becomes more agitated until the piano joins the flute in a climax, which will rebuild again to a second and more dramatic climax. After this outburst of anguish and frustration the second section will evolve into the third section where the wisdom of the forest takes over Bayard, giving the horse the serenity and peace so much sought after. The third movement is called Bayard. This movement depicts the confrontation and fight between Rinaldo and the horse in which Rinaldo overpowers the horse, winning its liberty and loyalty.
(1) Legends of Charlemagne. The Illustrated Bulfinch's Mythology. Macmillan. USA. Eddison Sadd Editions1997