Warner Classics released this CD on their by then defunct Finlandia imprint in 2004 in order to celebrate 25 years of that label. It then promptly vanished from the physical catalogue into download land. Perhaps Warner will re-release the disc on the super-budget Apex label for those, like me, who still cling to physical media?
Ferrucio Busoni (1866-1924) has never been that popular and, although very much a composers composer, seems likely to remain a bit off the beaten path for many listeners. It is generally held (according to E Sackville-West) that Busoni's immense knowledge prevented him from expressing his unique personality in his own music, and that his creative genius found its proper outlet in the field of pianistic interpretation Busoni and his Pupils. But those who have had the opportunity to study the orchestral music Busoni: Piano Concerto, and the operas Busoni: Doktor Faust, of Busoni's maturity have seldom failed to be enthralled by an intellectual power, a spiritual magnificence, and an austere yet luminous beauty that are found together only in Bach and the great polyphonic masters of the sixteenth century.
This CD includes the early Sonata "No.0" in C major from 1876 and the Sonata No.1 in E minor, Op.29 from 1890; neither are masterpieces, but they do bear repeated listening. The masterpiece is the Sonata No.2 in E minor, Op36a from 1898.
It's a noble piece and consists of several linked movements, ending with a set of variations on Bach's chorale, "Wie wohl ist mir, o Freund der Seelen". The style is much less elusive - and less profound - than that of Busoni's final period Busoni: Fantasia Contrappuntistica; Seven Elegies; but in its Brahmsian way this is a thoughtful and moving work. The performance from Lev and Reakallio is smooth and skilful and very well recorded.