Ferrucio Busoni: Piano Works

Roland Pöntinen

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Ferrucio Busoni: Piano Works Review

by James Manheim

It's odd that Mozart is given priority in the subtitle of this CPO release, "Hommages à Mozart, Bach & Chopin": Mozart is involved only in the four-minute Giga, Bolero, e Variazione (nach Mozart) aus: An die Jugend, K. 254, and that's not one of the more impressive works on the album. Instead it is Bach who is, as usual with Busoni, the primary inspiration. Swedish pianist Roland Pöntinen, a specialist in rarities of the post-Romantic era, has a rather relaxed, discursive style. Some listeners approach Busoni in search of pianistic thrills, and if you're among that group, you can probably find more muscular versions of the centerpiece work here, the mighty transcription of the Chaconne from Bach's Partita for solo violin in D minor, BWV 1004. But there is plenty here to interest the true Busoni lover. The 10 Variations on a Prelude by Chopin, BW 213a, is a fine example of Busoni's wild chromaticism. The Drei Albumblätter (Three Album Pages), BV 289, are in a Lisztian mold, and the Bach chorale arrangements (tracks 2-6) show Busoni working out individual details of his unique neo-Baroque style. The sound quality from Southwest German Radio is an unusually good match for Pöntinen's quiet, clear style. Recommended for good post-Romantic collections.

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