The Rhapsody is in an easily recognisable simple rondo form. The first folk theme (A), Andantino pastorale, starting in F sharp minor, is delightful in its initial simplicity, though it eventually becomes more emphatic, leading after a gradually quietening cadenza to the bouncy second theme (B), Allegretto scherzando, which begins in B flat minor. After a return to the first theme (A), again Andantino pastorale, the most ebullient of the folk themes (C), Allegro giocoso, is heard in F sharp major. It is a kazachok of a type danced by the Ukrainian Cossacks. In the climactic coda, the first theme (A) returns in noble style, in the context of its faster successor. The combination of charm, exuberance and exhilaration is irresistible. The work requires of the player, to an even greater extent than Lyapunov’s First Concerto, an extraordinary virtuoso technique of the Lisztian type, composed as it was in the wake of his own Transcendental Studies and at the same time as his one-movement Piano Sonata, a work of fiendish difficufty. If the Rhapsody is played with sufficient aplomb, the effect is scintillating. Completed in 1907, published by J H Zimmermann in Leipzig the following year, and first performed in the spring of 1909 with Lyapunov himself as soloist and the Free School Orchestra conducted by A A Bemardi, it was dedicated to Busoni.
from notes by Edward Garden © 2002