Liszt scholars had long been aware of an earlier unpublished version of the fifth Consolation
under the title Madrigal
– in an inaccessible manuscript in a private collection. But a manuscript, partly in Liszt’s hand and partly in the hand of a copyist, shows there to be a complete set of six pieces in an earlier version, and, for the moment, we must presume that the copyist’s manuscript of No 5 agrees with the Madrigal
manuscript in all but title. The first set of Consolations
has recently been published for the first time (in tandem with the second set), under the scrupulous editorship of Mária Eckhardt. The most obvious difference from the later set (in volume 9 of this series) is the third piece – another piece altogether, which later served as the main material for the opening of the first Rapsodie hongroise
. But, the lack of the great D flat Consolation
No 3 aside, the early versions are a revelation in their generally less pristine view of the material. Only No 6 is more restrained than its later counterpart – and yet perhaps fits better in the scheme of the series on that account. Those familiar with the later set will find themselves constantly and delightfully deflected from their expectations by music which seems every bit as valid as the final conceptions.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1995