Domenico Codispoti

Franck: Violin Sonata; Prélude, Fugue et Variation; Prélude, Choral et Fugue

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César Franck was one of the greatest composers for the organ, though he devoted considerably less time and effort to writing for solo piano. Apart from a handful of short pieces from his youth, he left the Prélude, Choral et Fugue as his major statement for that instrument. So how could anyone conceive an album of his piano music? To flesh out a full program, Domenico Codispoti has found it necessary to include Alfred Cortot's transcription of the Violin Sonata in A major, and the arrangement by Harold Bauer of the organ work, Prélude, Fugue et Variation, Op. 18, to present a viable all-Franck CD. Although Codispoti's performances are serious and communicative, there is something odd at first in hearing the Violin Sonata without its violin part, and something even stranger about the Prélude, Fugue et Variation without its characteristic organ registration. (Even though Franck arranged the work for two pianos, as well as for piano and harmonium, it is still best known in its organ version). Still, if one suspends disbelief long enough to let Codispoti to make his case, there is every reason that these performances should satisfy, for the transcriptions are completely idiomatic for the piano, and the pianist is alive to the possibilities in each work. Codispoti has a sympathetic feeling for Franck's expressions, and he transforms the rich, if cerebral, counterpoint into something that breathes with passion, drama, and freedom, perhaps more than ever could be realized on the somewhat inhibited organ. Choosing this disc depends almost entirely on taste: purists may blanch, but casual listeners who are open to fresh interpretations will find it appealing.

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