Liszt’s genius for beautiful titles deserted him only once—the Grosses Konzertsolo
is a mere stab at a title for a long work which is not yet a sonata, but no longer a character piece. Forerunner of the B minor Sonata it certainly is, however, and the history of the composition shows that Liszt was much preoccupied with it. The piece was written between 1849 and 1850, and dedicated to Adolf Henselt who professed himself unable to play it, even though Liszt had intended it as a competition piece for the Paris Conservatoire. The original is a simple one-movement Allegro, and the piece also exists in an unpublished version for piano and orchestra (not to be confused with the recently discovered ‘third’ concerto). Some time before the publication in 1851, Liszt expanded the work by adding a slow central section whose material he also worked into the later stages of the piece. Later still Liszt arranged the piece for two pianos under the title Concerto Pathétique
and at the end of his life supervised his student Eduard Reuss in the production of a new version for piano and orchestra, to which Liszt added several new passages. In any case, this is an extremely interesting work in its own right, and is unaccountably neglected, especially by student s who might well benefit from consulting this piece before tackling the Sonata!
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1989