The highlight, even after several listenings, on the third disc in Wolf Harden's fine Busoni series, is the opening arrangement of Bach's BWV 564 for organ. All three movements are pieces that have soaked into the popular imagination, and will probably be recognisable to many. Of those, the central slow movement is particularly haunting, it being one of those rare pieces in which Bach sits down beside you as a friend, and tells you of the sorrows he has endured. This is counterpoised by the two pieces of exquisite, sun-splashed architecture which sandwich it. Of all Busoni's Bach transcriptions I have heard so far, this seems the one into which Busoni least intrudes himself, appearing to be content to just give Bach another medium through which to speak to us.
The Troi Morceax that follow are a fine set of miniatures that turn Bachian language to modern poetic purposes. Much of the Dance and `Ballet Scenes' that follow that have a French flavour not apparent, to me at least, on the previous discs. Alkan might come to mind, and even occasionally Debussy. The Tanzwalzer is, to my ear, an uncharacteristically routine piece of Straussian kitsch of the kind for which I have no admiration. I deduct a half star for this, for reasons purely of personal taste. The Indian Diary pieces which close the disc were written in response to Busoni's witnessing of the plight of the American Indians on his American travels. He purportedly based them on Indian themes and rhythms, but if this was so, it was not in any stock Hollywood kind of way. Indeed, they are more evocative of Liszt with an occasional modernist twist. The third, slow movement of this little set has a special sadness that I found rather moving.
This is an enjoyable disc, the word entertaining even seeming appropriate. Sound and performance, as before, are faultless. However, with the exception of the outer movements of the opening Bach transcription, there is little of the bravura display that featured so strongly on the earlier discs in the series. For this, although it might be shallow of me, I deduct another half star. With a mere four stars, and so much out there to explore, I am as yet undecided as to whether I'm left quite inspired enough to proceed with purchasing the fourth disc.