Schubert-Liszt “Wanderer” Fantasy, S.565a

The pivotal place that Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy held in Liszt’s imagination as a pianist and composer is shown in his lengthy preoccupation with the work. He produced three arrangements of it; that for piano and orchestra (S.366) and another for two pianos (S.653) were completed by 1851. His arrangement for piano solo, probably dating from around 1868, remains almost entirely unknown, however, and received its first (and only) commercial recording in 1997 as part of Leslie Howard’s monumental traversal of Liszt’s complete piano works.

Liszt presents his arrangement as an “instructive edition”, with rewritten passages in the first three movements presented as ossias while the finale is completely revised and stands independently. Here is his preface to the work (with English translation by Percy Goetschius):

Where Liszt changes Schubert’s text, it is generally to create an “orchestral” effect in the manner of his transcriptions of the Beethoven symphonies. Schubert’s often unpianistic figurations (he said “the devil may play it”, finding that he himself could not) are replaced by Lisztian chordal passages and countermelodies. Having performed both Schubert’s original version and Liszt’s arrangement, Liszt’s version is, in my view, both more technically effective on the modern piano and more fully a realization of Schubert’s dramatic vision, particularly in the finale.