The Fantasia is based on two arias: ‘Non più andrai’, sung by Figaro to Cherubino as he despatches him off to join a regiment, adding that womenkind will be able to breathe freely once more; and ‘Voi che sapete’, in which Cherubino serenades the Countess and Susanna. The work begins almost nonchalantly, with a snippet of ‘Non più andrai’ which is gradually transformed by Liszt in a substantial introduction full of melodramatic ardour, tremolos and eye-watering virtuosity. ‘Voi che sapete’ then appears complete, in a more lyrical section characterized by a delicacy which gradually warms as the texture increases in complexity and brilliance. The virtuosity, however, is never allowed to obscure the crystalline beauty of Mozart’s aria. Colours darken, tremolos and double octaves build up the tension in a transition passage culminating in a rising scale of double sixths and thirds which heralds the triumphant reappearance of ‘Non più andrai’, marked deciso and later marcatissimo, emphasizing the martial nature of Cherubino’s fate. If Liszt was already unsparing in his demands on the pianist, Busoni adds to these with such instructions as con eleganza in textures thick with notes. Liszt continues to tease, with Figaro’s theme veering off in unexpected harmonic directions until he finally deconstructs it, leaving little more than a rhythmic torso, against motoric left-hand figuration. Busoni attempts no clever tricks in his ending, stylistically remaining utterly in keeping with Liszt.
from notes by Harriet Smith © 2008