Italian pianist Davide Cabassi was a finalist at the 2005 Van Cliburn Competition in Fort Worth. His first recordings have been intelligently programmed. The title of this one, Escaping, might be a loose translation of the movement "in fuga" that concludes each of the three works on the program, and the concept is backed up by innovative graphic design. Annotator Joshua H. Izzard goes on to assert that each work embodies "a transcendence and triumph of substance and form over worldly worries." That's a rather nebulous concept, and one that could be debated for at least two of these works. Indeed, the teenaged J.S. Bach's Capriccio in B flat major on the Departure of His Beloved Brother, BWV 992, the composer's only fully programmatic work, would seem more quotidian than transcendent. Probably composed on the occasion of Bach's brother's departure for a new job, it evokes such details as friends trying to persuade him not to go. There is a humorous aspect to the music that eludes Cabassi, although he's a fine Bach pianist. The Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 31 in A flat major, Op. 110, whose transcendence can be granted, may be the strongest of the three performances on the album. There are many versions that differentiate the four movements more than Cabassi does, for example by speeding through or playing up the bumptious humor of the Scherzo. But Cabassi's clean approach, which makes the structure of the final fugue very clear, succeeds on its own terms. The Brahms Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24, is something like Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, Op. 120, in its way of extracting the maximal structural and stylistic implications from a small kernel; the listener is taken on a tour of styles whose corners are not always fully illuminated here, although the slam-bang finale is effective. For his fresh thinking about programming, Cabassi is clearly a pianist to watch.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Capriccio sopra la lotananza del suo fratello dilettissimo, for keyboard in B flat major, BWV 992 (BC L181)|
|Piano Sonata No. 31 in A flat major, Op. 110|
|Variations (25) and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, for piano, in B flat major, Op. 24|