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Busoni, F.: Piano Music, Vol. 4 (Harden) - Elegien / Fantasia Nach J. S. Bach / Toccata

Busoni, F.: Piano Music, Vol. 4 (Harden) - Elegien / Fantasia Nach J. S. Bach / Toccata

30 Nov 2007

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 30 Nov. 2007
  • Release Date: 26 Aug. 2008
  • Label: Naxos
  • Copyright: (C) 2008 Naxos
  • Total Length: 1:03:52
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001LYIZ7Y
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Amazon.com: 2.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stolid Performances of Busoni Piano Music 23 Sept. 2008
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I heard but did not review the previous releases in this series of performances of piano works by Busoni played by the German pianist Wolf Harden, largely because I did not find them particularly worthy. This issue, the fourth in the series, includes one of Busoni's reworkings of a piece by Bach (the Prelude and Fugue in D, BWV 532, for organ), Busoni's own Seven Elegies; Fantasia after J.S. Bach; and the Toccata (Preludio - Fantasia - Ciaccona).

The transcription of the Prelude and Fugue is not one of Busoni's greatest efforts along that line and Harden's performance of it does little to increase one's appreciation, largely because it is almost leaden. One is surprised that the piano version of the Fugue is more leaden that when one hears it on the organ, which is, after all, an instrument less capable of nuance; one would have expected the opposite impression. Most of Busoni's Elegies have often struck me as gray and uninviting, with the exception of the lovely 'All'Italia!', which is lyrical and beautifully harmonized. And I always have to chuckle whenever I hear 'Turandots Frauengemach', in either its piano or orchestral version, because Busoni mistakenly thought the tune we all recognize as 'Greensleeves' was a Chinese melody. Harden's playing does little to advocate for these pieces. The thick chords plod in his hands.

Harden's way with the Bach Fantasia is muddy and earthbound. The pianist has plenty of skill and yet the piece never quite takes flight, although there are passages that call for brilliance and lightness.

The most successful performance here is of the Toccata, K. 287, with its three contrasting sections. But even here Harden's touch is a bit heavy and sometimes it even feels effortful. I prefer Roland Pöntinen's version of much of this same repertoire on the cpo label Ferruccio Busoni: Seven Elegies; Piano Works. I wonder if Egon Petri, whose playing of the music of his teacher Busoni is exemplary, ever recorded the Toccata; a cursory check via Google doesn't turn anything up.

Not a disc I can recommend, even if the repertoire appeals.

Scott Morrison
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