V 6: Piano Music
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The sixth volume of Busoni' piano music features two major projects from the earlier part of his career. The Liszt transcription powerfully recreates the composer' grandest work for organ in terms of the piano, while the Piano Sonata in F minor is an ex
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The Sonata in F Minor comes from 1883, when Busoni was only 17 and a student in Vienna. The score was not available until recent years and is not well-known. It is a remarkably tightly constructed three movement work whose influences are, not surprisingly, Schumann and Brahms, as well as Anton Rubinstein. The first movement is in sonata-allegro form and has a striking first theme that is developed with real skill albeit with some stolidity. The Andante is altogether more serene and lyrical. The finale opens with a section marked 'In the guise of an improvisation' and leads to an exciting and masterful fugato which Harden plays lickety-split; at times one feels he is playing faster than his fingers will manage, but he never quite loses control. An exhilarating performance of an exhilarating movement.
The final two tracks on this CD are stylistically different as they come from 1923, long after Busoni had completely changed (modernized) his compositional fingerprints. The 'Prélude et étude en arpéges' are much more astringent than what had come before on this disc. The harmonies employed scintillate quietly in the sparse, evocative writing that had become characteristic of Busoni's late style. Harden plays, as required, with coolness and emotional restraint.