Movement 1: Allegro maestoso: Tempo giusto
Movement 2: Quasi adagio
Movement 3: Allegretto vivace
Movement 4: Allegro marziale animato
The first part of the Concerto begins with the famous motif to which Liszt is alleged to have privately appended the words: „Das versteht Ihr alle nicht“ (‘This none of you understands’), answered by the equally famous octave leaps from the piano. This exchange is followed by a short cadenza in C major whose opening is also structurally relevant. Two further exchanges present the opening motif with an accompaniment of repeated chords, and the piano’s answer and arpeggio leading into a lyrical phrase. This is taken up by the clarinet and produces the transition to the second subject proper—a falling phrase in C minor. The development immediately combines the clarinet phrase with the first motif, and leads to a tutti on the first theme and a piano/orchestra combination of that motif in descending chromatic octaves against a version of the clarinet arpeggio. The recapitulation is much truncated—it begins with the piano cadenza now in F sharp major, and the second subject does not return—and the coda again combines the two motifs, ending enharmonically in D sharp major, making the move to B major for the second part look less unusual.
The theme of the miniature slow movement has two main phrases, one rising, one falling, which are developed separately. The second generates the central recitative which yields to a new theme from the flute over the piano trill, and the first theme returns briefly to effect the transition to the scherzo in E flat minor, whose motifs derive from the second subject of the first movement and the second phrase of the theme of the slow movement. After the scherzo, a brief cadenza reintroduces material from the first movement, adding the flute theme from the slow movement, all designed to introduce the finale. This march returns us to E flat major, and it is based on the first phrase of the slow movement alternating with a version of the second subject of the first movement. The recitative of the second movement is then recalled in an exchange between bassoons, trombones and lower strings and the piano, and the music moves to B major for a second theme—derived from the slow movement flute melody. After a variation on the march theme, a new theme appears—a transformation of the scherzo—in E minor, but leading to a variation in E flat major, and thence to the coda, which is largely and ingeniously transformed from first movement material.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1998