Busoni: Transcriptions of works by Bizet, Brahms, Bach, Beethoven, Schoenberg, Wagner & Goldmark

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COMPOSERS: Busoni
LABELS: Capriccio
WORKS: Transcriptions of works by Bizet, Brahms, Bach, Beethoven, Schoenberg, Wagner & Goldmark
PERFORMER: Holger Groschopp (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 10 896
Busoni was one of the great pianists of his time (1866-1924), but a musical thinker who looked to the future, and a composer whose elusive style seems to subvert its own foundations. His arrangement of the second of Schoenberg’s Op. 11 pieces is, in effect, an ‘improvement’ aimed at making the music more popular. Yet in his Carmen Fantasy he does the opposite – makes popular music more learned. The big Fantasy (over 16 minutes) on Goldmark’s Merlin is an early and fairly conventional finger-twister, played very niftily here, with a minimum of puffing and panting. In fact, Holger Groschopp is a most accomplished and sensitive pianist, and plays a very nice instrument, which can sound mellow and fruity but is also light and even. These qualities allow eloquently flowing performances of the Brahms, which are far from their usually lugubrious character. And for once, the Bach Chaconne arrangement doesn’t feel like an assault course. Siegfried’s Funeral March ideally needs more sustained resonance, yet is handled as effectively as could be. A bit of a specialist disc, perhaps, but an unobtrusively musical one. Adrian Jack

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