Busoni: Piano Music, Vol. 5

Busoni: Piano Music, Vol. 5

by Wolf Harden


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Busoni: Piano Music, Vol. 5

Wolf Harden returns to Busoni for Naxos in this, his fifth volume of Busoni's piano music for the label, and Harden seems to be more on his game here than in the fourth volume. While flanked by Busoni's familiar transcription of J.S. Bach's "St. Anne" prelude and his extraordinary 1922 rewrite of his much earlier "Variations on Chopin's C minor Prelude," the real jewels in this crown are a couple of obscure suites, the "Six Etudes, Op. 16" (1883), and the "Six Pieces, Op. 33b" (1895-1896). The first set is a wild and wooly series of etudes Busoni composed when he was only 17 years of age, and it contains so many seeds of his mature style that certain pieces -- such as the fifth etude "Fuga" -- could nearly be mistaken for the Busoni of 30 or so years later. The "Six Pieces" date from just before the "Violin Concerto" and "Violin Sonata No. 2, Op. 36a," which Busoni cited as representing a stylistic breakthrough for him. The virtuoso textures he achieves in these pieces -- "Frohsion" utilizes a sweeping figure Busoni returned to in the elegy entitled "Meine Seele bangt und hofft zu Dir" from the "Sechs Elegien" of 1907 -- are ones that he would revisit. The rest of it -- its comparatively conservative harmonic style and stern, seriously minded post-romantic posture -- are things Busoni would leave behind for good. Harden is very sharp throughout this whole recording, even as his piano seems to have something of a hiccup here and there. In the Bach transcription and Chopin variations, Harden is entering the market with some already stiff competition afoot, for example Demidenko in the Bach and Kaoru Bingham in the Chopin. However, in the other works Harden is running practically unopposed, and while no "world premiere" is claimed for the "Six Pieces Op. 33b," this does seem to be the first complete recording of that set, from which the "Fantasia in modo antico" is usually singled out and played as a separate entity. If Harden may feel the competition, he doesn't show it, as he treats all of the music here with the same level of respect and has obviously put a lot of hard work into this production.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/28/2009
Label: Naxos
UPC: 0747313089178
catalogNumber: 8570891


  1. Praeludium & Fuge, transcription for piano in E flat major "St. Anne" (after J. S. Bach, BWV 552), KiV B22
  2. Sechs Etüden, for piano, Op. 16, KiV 203
  3. Sechs Stücke, for piano, Op. 33b, KiV 241
  4. Zehn Variationen über das Prelude von F. Chopin Op. 28/20 in C minor, K. 293 (Klavierübung II/1), Op. 22, KiV 213a

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