COMPOSERS: Frey,Jarnach & Schoeck,Jelmoli,Liszt (Arr. Busoni),Marek,Sulzberger
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Eye of the Storm
PERFORMER: Ceruti Quartet; Oliver Lewis (violin), Andrew Zolinsky (piano), Nigel Potts (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: GMCD 7189
This fascinatingly planned programme showcases the Swiss composers who came within Busoni’s orbit during his self-imposed Zürich exile duing World War I, and were all affected by the experience. Only Othmar Schoeck, Philipp Jarnach (who completed Busoni’s Faust) and the recently revalued Czeslaw Marek (subject of an eight-CD Koch series), the only names likely to be at all familiar, are represented by miniatures (some fascinating ones nonetheless, including a delicately minimalist dance-number from Schoeck’s opera Das Wandbild, with libretto by Busoni).
The more substantial items are Emil Frey’s big Bach fantasia, more Lisztian than Busonian; Hans Jelmoli’s Rameau Variations, clearly indebted to Busoni’s reworkings of Baroque originals; and most remarkable of all Marcel Sulzberger’s Violin Sonata. Busoni generously encouraged Sulzberger, but this extraordinary piece moves in a passionate trajectory of its own, from Fauré via Decaux to Scriabin and even Schoenberg. Not surprisingly it was entirely too avant-garde for its time and place (Zürich, 1919) and apparently had only one performance (Paris, 1924) before the present recording. It was well worth resurrecting – as, to a lesser degree, is everything else here. The performers sound sympathetic and entirely at ease with this unfamiliar music; Andrew Zolinsky’s fine account of Busoni’s recension of Liszt’s first Mephisto Waltz is another compelling reason to buy this beautifully recorded disc. Calum MacDonald