Réminiscences de Lucrezia Borgia – Grande fantaisie sur des motifs favoris de l'opéra de Donizetti, S400
Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia
of 1833 was the basis for a concert fantasy which Liszt composed in 1840/1. Its musical material corresponds closely with the second part of the Réminiscences
. In 1848 Liszt added his transcription of the second act trio—one of his busiest movements, so fulsome is his use of arpeggio and tremolo. He revised the second part, removing much of the development of the drinking song but improving its presentation, reinstating a short passage from Donizetti’s finale that had been previously overlooked, and inserting a brief reference to the theme of the trio just before the finale. The whole two-movement work emerges as one of Liszt’s largest fantasies. In the first part Liszt makes a great deal of the figure heard at the outset, and he works it into the texture at every opportunity, sometimes at considerable hazard to the performer. The memorable duet of the second part is surrounded by the unbridled liberties of the orgiastic drinking-song. There is much imitation of the possession of three hands, both in the duet and in the martial finale where Liszt’s main text of triplet scales in thirds and sixths is preferable to the ossia welter of glissandos.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1996