The Scherzo und Marsch
is a work apart from the others: one of Liszt’s larger structures, it exploits the combination of two movements into one which is familiar from the and which reached its apogee with the Sonata. But the musical language of the Scherzo—in a very brisk 38, with its many barbed appoggiaturas—is a direct precursor of the Mephisto music: the Mephistopheles movement of the Faust Symphony (right down to the uncompromising fugal development) and the Mephisto Waltzes and Polka. The March, which is at once a new movement and a kind of trio section to the Scherzo, begins as a ghostly affair which presages the young Mahler and is denied its triumph by the shortened return of the Scherzo, only to reappear in diabolical glory at the furious coda. The neglect of this minor masterpiece is due to its severe technical demands; Liszt himself lamented that neither Kullak nor Tausig could bring the piece off in performance, and that only Blow had mastered it. (Typically, he never played it himself.) According to the Neue Liszt-Ausgabe the original incomplete draft of the work dates from 1851 and is subtitled Wilde Jagd (‘Wild Hunt’). The hunting title is not really appropriate to the character of the work, however, and Liszt put it to much better use in the eighth of the Transcendental Études. The work was finally published in the present form in 1854.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1994