Liszt’s predilection for Schubert’s Grosse Fantasie
(better known as the ‘Wanderer’ Fantasy) became almost a preoccupation. Schubert’s masterpiece contains the kernel of Liszt’s own system of thematic transformation and the unity of several movements in one. Liszt produced a famous version of the work for piano and orchestra (and one for two pianos) by about 1851, but the version for solo piano is much later. Schubert’s text is presented with many an alternative suggestion for the first three movements, either to replace some of Schubert’s less pianistic textures (it must be remembered that at the time practically everybody, from Schubert onwards, declared the work unpianistic and unplayable as it stood) or to take advantage of the greater compass of the keyboard in the mid-nineteenth century. In the final section Liszt offers a completely independent text printed after Schubert’s original, in which the fearsome arpeggios and semiquavers are all but eliminated and the texture is much more orchestral. Naturally, these days everyone plays Schubert’s original text, but without this interesting arrangement, valid in its own right as more than merely a testimony to late-Romantic practice, the work might never have reached the general repertoire.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1998