The most famous of Csárdás is undoubtedly the Csárdás macabre
, which Liszt first wrote in 1881 but gradually expanded through a second draft in 1882 to the definitive version here recorded. The version prepared in good faith by Humphrey Searle, from the short draft in the British Library, and supplemented by his solo transcription of extra passages found in János Végh’s (rather than Liszt’s, as Searle thought) arrangement for piano duet, was published by the Liszt Society in its first volume, and recorded several times. But this version lacks the first 48 bars (which Liszt certainly added later) and is quite unlike Liszt’s final version in many other respects. It should be disregarded in favour of the full text as printed by the Neue Liszt-Ausgabe
. That edition also tells us that Liszt’s oft-quoted remark ‘Should one write or listen to such a thing?’ (Liszt’s original in German and French reads: ‘Darf man solch ein Ding schreiben oder anhören? Peut on écrire ou écouter pareille chose?’) found above the title on the MS has been crossed out by him with a red pencil, but that may only mean that he did not wish it published. The sentiment is appropriate enough since it anticipates that this, one of his most forward-looking works, would prove difficult for musicians and public alike. Bartók knew the work, although the copy he prepared for publication in 1912 never saw fruition, so the first complete and accurate edition of the work had to wait until the Neue Liszt-Ausgabe
of 1984, where further information about the sources of the work may be found.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1994