- Piano Sonata in E minor (AKA Grand Sonata)
- Menuet No. 1 in E minor, for piano
- Au Jardin des Fleurs, for piano
- Twilight Thoughts No. 2, for piano
- Sérénade for piano
The music of Leopold Godowsky has the reputation of being ostentatious and virtuosic to the point of being nearly unplayable. In some instances, such as with his reworkings of Chopin etudes, that reputation is grounded in fact. Yet, in volume five of his survey of Godowsky's solo piano works, Konstantin Scherbakov demonstrates that there are other aspects to Godowsky's music that are not just meant to challenge the performer and aurally impress the listener. The massive "Sonata in E minor" is in five movements, very much in a late Romantic style, full of songful melodies and rich development of themes. Although it dates from 1910-1911, when Godowsky was 40, it still has something of a youthful passion, moodiness, and optimism in it that Scherbakov brings out wonderfully in his easy confidence. And despite the grand scale of the work and the extroverted character of some of Godowsky's other music, Scherbakov also manages to make the sonata feel inviting and personal, even intimate and whimsical at times. One of those moments is at the end of the first movement, when a grandiose false ending is followed by a very inwardly felt coda. In the middle movements, Scherbakov finds gentle warmth, the fairy magic of Mendelssohn, and the elegance of a Viennese waltz, without sentimentality. The final movement really is what Godowsky called it, "Retrospect." It brings together not only themes from the earlier movements, but also works in compositional techniques favored in past eras -- a Baroque-like largo, a fugue on B-A-C-H, a funeral march featuring Dies Irae. The "Menuet" and three of the six "Twilight Thoughts" that fill out the album are much lighter and earlier works of Godowsky. Scherbakov treats them with the same amount of respect, making them no less engaging or delicately shaded than the sonata's middle movements, and without any indulgent corniness that would otherwise make them run-of-the-mill salon pieces. In his hands, all of this music is as rewarding for its sense of feeling and character as Godowsky's showier pieces are for their excitement and brilliance.