Putting aside Louise Bertin’s opera Esmeralda
, for which Liszt prepared the piano-vocal score and Berlioz the orchestral score [why?!] the sweet little trifle in honour of the Marquise de Blocqueville is the only other shared work involving Liszt. Extracting the gist of the story from Francis Planté’s fulsome account to the Maison Durand, who issued the work in 1927 (it had previously appeared in the magazine Figaro in 1886): Herz had been teaching the piano to the young and inattentive lady, and felt compelled to show his reaction to her dilatory behaviour by writing a short, indecisive, album-leaf as her musical portrait. This she showed to Planté, years later. He responded with a piece of his own, indicating the sound of the local church bell and depicting the older woman’s mature and pious state of mind. The Marquise sent both pieces immediately to Liszt, with a request for a third portrait, and Liszt responded with a wayward connecting passage to a variant of Herz’s theme and a rich extension of Planté’s theme, which Planté himself seems to have enriched with a few bass octave doublings of his own.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1991