Draeseke/Liszt

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COMPOSERS: Draeseke/Liszt
LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm
WORKS: Sonata quasi Fantasia in C sharp minor; Sonata in B minor; Mosonyis Grabgeleit
PERFORMER: Claudius Tanski (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: MD+G L 3514 DDD (distr. Priory)
Felix Draeseke was a friend of Hans von Bülow, and an early supporter of the so-called New German School of Liszt and Wagner. Liszt himself considered Draeseke’s 1867 C sharp minor Sonata the most important work of the genre ‘since Schumann’s F sharp minor Sonata’, but, despite the compliment, the work did not enjoy a lasting place in the repertoire.

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It has recently found a champion in Claudius Tanski, with the backing of Alfred Brendel who, in an echo of Liszt, finds the sonata ‘a very original piece, a piece of the Romantic avant-garde’. The work owes more to the Romantic fantasy than to the Classical sonata, and its movements were conceived more or less separately, yet it does possess a distinct narrative progression, from the opening funeral march – reminiscent of Chopin’s Second Sonata – to the triumphant fortissimo final bars. Tanski invests the music with a bravura intensity, and brings the lightness of the salon to the halting waltz of the Intermezzo. Draeseke’s Sonata lacks the motivic integrity and the meditative concentration of Liszt’s B minor Sonata, of which Tanski gives a ferocious account as a companion piece. Nevertheless, there is a fascination to Draeseke’s forgotten work that will appeal to any student of the Romantic piano repertoire. William Humphreys-Jones