Busoni: Sonatina No. 2; Sonatina No. 6; Fantasia nach JS Bach; Indianisches Tagebuch, Book 1

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COMPOSERS: Busoni
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Sonatina No. 2; Sonatina No. 6; Fantasia nach JS Bach; Indianisches Tagebuch, Book 1
PERFORMER: Geoffrey Tozer (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9394 DDD
Many people know Busoni from his transcriptions of Bach, especially the Chaconne in D minor, which is not included here. The mighty organ Prelude and Fugue in D (BWV 532), which ends the disc, belongs to the same category. The Sonatina No. 6 is freely based on Bizet’s Carmen, the Fantasia nach JS Bach puts a comparable distance between Busoni and three of Bach’s chorale preludes, while the Giga, bolero e variazione draw on Mozart; all three works are in the tradition of Liszt’s paraphrases, though less flashy.

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Then there are pieces using folk-tunes – ‘Greensleeves’, of all unexpected things, in Turandots Frauengemach, and, hardly more likely, American Indian melodies in the Indianisches Tagebuch. Busoni the explorer allows himself the greatest freedom in the almost atonal Sonatina seconda of 1912.

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All the music, including the straight transcriptions, shows a liking for dark sonorities and thick textures, which Tozer tactfully lightens and clarifies. His playing is unforced, subtly coloured and limpid, and Chandos seems to have turned over a new leaf, for although the piano sound is spacious, it is not dissolved in excessive resonance. An excellent introduction to a sombre, rather disturbing composer, who as yet represents a minority cult. Adrian Jack