After the final revisions were complete, Liszt issued his Ruins of Athens Fantasy
in three versions, whose texts run parallel bar-for-bar, and dedicated all of them to Nikolay Rubinstein: the versions are for solo piano (S389), two pianos (S649) and piano and orchestra. Liszt’s earlier Capriccio alla turca
(S388) provided much of the material, although texturally considerably altered, and the recently published transcription of the Marsch und Chor
(No 6 in Beethoven’s incidental music, Opus 113)—under the title of Fantasie über Motive aus Beethovens Ruinen von Athen
, first version (S388b)—supplied the basis for the new beginning. In the version with orchestra, Liszt is happy to have the piano remain silent for the whole introduction, and he then introduces the soloist with a mighty outburst, and the theme of the introduction gives way to that of the Dervishes’ Chorus (Beethoven’s No 3), in which the orchestra gradually joins. The final section is based on the famous Turkish March (Beethoven’s No 4) which Liszt introduces in a very gentle way, little by little increasing the orchestration, the volume and the tempo, finally reaching a coda in which the other themes reappear. For some inscrutable reason, this excellent work is almost never encountered in concert, a fate which seems to have befallen Beethoven’s original, too.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1998