Movement 1: Allegro con fuoco ma non troppo
Movement 2: Adagio
Movement 3: Presto
Movement 4: Allegro
In the first section, Liszt lets the orchestra speak first, and the piano enters only with the second, quiet statement of the principal theme. Liszt takes various melodic fragments into the orchestra—often as woodwind solos—and gives some of Schubert’s repeated chords over to the orchestra altogether. The slow movement is left to the piano to begin, the orchestra entering where Schubert’s left-hand tremolo is now taken up by both hands on the piano whilst the thematic material is passed to a dialogue between wind and strings. In the variation with the filigree writing in the right hand Liszt restores Schubert’s theme in the winds and in the left hand, where Schubert’s original merely hints at it, and he allows the whole orchestra to join in Schubert’s mighty climax. Exchanging phrases between piano and orchestra is Liszt’s starting point for the arrangement of the scherzo and the fugal exposition of the finale is left to the piano, with the orchestra joining gradually thereafter in a nicely calculated crescendo. Throughout the piece, Schubert’s more extreme demands are modified: the octaves at the end of the first movement, the terrible leaps to the right-hand arpeggios at the end of the scherzo, and the final page of arpeggios in both hands which so often brings disaster in concert are entirely avoided, these last being replaced by more solid chords from the piano and fanfares from the horns and trumpets.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1998