The two concertos which Liszt published were, at the draft stage, originally accompanied by a third, although its provenance is a little earlier. Liszt kept making small improvements to the drafts but, at a time and for a reason unknown, abandoned one of the works which, like the famous No 1, is in E flat major. He proceeded gradually to bring the two remaining pieces up to their present state. The discarded concerto is quite playable, thanks to the painstaking research of Jay Rosenblatt who re-assembled it after it had been dispersed about Europe on the careless assumption that it was a set of discarded sketches for the Concerto No 1. The score discloses the phenomenon that is encountered with the Transcendental Etudes
: that Liszt returned to his juvenilia to provide himself with a springboard to new music. Along with the theme from the Opus 1 Variations
, the Concerto uses in many guises the first theme of the Allegro di bravura
and one motif from the Rondo di bravura
generates one of the principal themes. That said, it has to be admitted that these early showpieces which form the young Liszt’s Opus 4 are rather experimental in the matter of form, and almost clumsy in some of their technical requirements. The style recalls Hummel and Czerny—two influences present in Liszt’s early opera and in the following studies. An attempt by Liszt to orchestrate the Allegro
was abandoned, although he was confidently orchestrating his opera within a year.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1994