To be honest, Liszt never expected the original version of his Ballade No 2
to be published, but the original form has long been known—differing from the final version by the absence of two eight-bar phrases in the closing B major section, and by having a fast coda which recalls the central martial development material—this coda being itself a second draft of another cancelled fast ending. The original coda has appeared in several editions, although most of them fail to remark that, if it is performed, two eight-bar cuts need also to be made to restore the original text. It goes without saying that the beautiful quiet coda of the later version is a stroke of genius, but the present ending is not without its merits.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1996