D’Albert: Complete Bach Transcription

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COMPOSERS: D’albert
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Complete Bach transcriptions
PERFORMER: Piers Lane (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67709

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Eugen d’Albert’s copious piano transcriptions of Bach’s organ works made him an arch-rival to Busoni. 

A Scottish-born pupil of Liszt, he conceived his transcriptions much in Liszt’s spirit: they are not quite as over-the-top as Busoni’s, a little less dense and overtone-laden, but the demands on the performer are still astonishing.

He milks the rich-bassed glories of Bach’s writing as if to prove that the piano is not to be outdone just because it has no pedalled notes. Listening to Piers Lane’s thrilling account of the C minor Passacaglia, it’s tempting to think he and d’Albert must both have had 16 fingers. 

The programme offers intense pianism; but what makes Lane’s performance so special is the sheer panache, even chutzpah, that he brings to every twist and turn while managing to keep the contrapuntal threads transparent within the fabric.

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And his tone is one of exceptional beauty and fullness, perhaps at its loveliest while quiet, yet at high volume remaining ideally cushioned and velvety. Intelligent musicianship replete with élan, excellently recorded in the resonant acoustic of Henry Wood Hall. Jessica Duchen