Manuel García (1775–1832) was a very successful composer of zarzuelas and the fifth number of his one-act piece El poeta calculista of 1804 is entitled ‘Yo que soy contrabandista’. Liszt settled for ‘El contrabandista’ (‘The smuggler’) in his hair-raising paraphrase of it—the Rondeau fantastique—and so may we. Liszt’s piece was published in 1837, with a dedication to George Sand, as his Opus 5 No 3—the companion pieces being the Clochette-Fantaisie and the Fantaisie romantique sur deux mélodies suisses. It remains one of the most impressive works of his early maturity, and its current neglect—difficulties notwithstanding—is a testimony to the want of a spirit of enquiry in many of today’s pianists.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1997