This piece must have been transcribed more often than almost any other: orchestral versions by Stokowski and Sir Henry Wood, numerous arrangements for brass band, several for two pianists and at least thirty for solo piano. The paradox is that its authenticity is in some doubt among scholars, but whether after all this time the authorship of this grandly expressive and at times flamboyant piece should have an effect on its popularity is a moot point. Tausig and Busoni both annotated their transcriptions for piano with copious directions to the performer, and Grainger has borrowed these and added his own to make a score that is both intensely creative and enticing to the player. Although Grainger frequently played his transcription, no manuscript copy exists. Leslie Howard has provided an accurate performing text, based on Grainger’s recordings of the work, and an attenuated selection of bits of passagework in Grainger’s hand, perhaps used for practice, and held in the Grainger Museum in Melbourne. Friedman’s version is a perhaps less adventurous but is nevertheless thoroughly pianistic: his aim throughout is to use the full sonority of the piano, and his transcription has above all nobility and a dramatic expressiveness.
from notes by Piers Lane © 2003