Liszt wrote some delightful waltzes when he was in his twenties and early thirties—Valse de bravoure
, Valse mélancolique
—and then more or less abandoned dance forms for forty years. So it has long been assumed that the four Valses oubliées
which he produced in his seventies were inspired by some kind of nostalgia for his carefree youth. Although the title (‘Forgotten Waltzes’) seems to confirm that assumption and although there is the occasional sentimental episode, the Valses oubliées
are actually not so much nostalgic as ironic. Obviously, they do not display the demonic attitude of the Mephisto Waltzes but they all have something sardonic about them—even the most popular of them, No 1 in F sharp major, which is characterized by the impish rhythms in the opening bars, the pressure put on the initially charming main theme, the feverishly glittering second theme in high right-hand octaves, the inconclusive ending.
from notes by Gerald Larner © 2009