Athanor: The furnace used by alchemists in their search for the philosopher’s matter, indispensable for the maturation of the Great Work. By extension, this furnace, in the shape of a matrix, has become a symbol of their quest for perfection and the absolute.
The demon Mephisto has a bet with an Archangel that he can corrupt a righteous man's soul and destroy in him what is divine. If he succeeds, the Devil will win dominion over earth. War between good and evil is characteristic for Liszt's music, and is to be heard particularly clearly in his Totentanz, where episodes of heavenly serenity contrast with diabolic virtuosity.