LABELS: Marco Polo
WORKS: Schubert transcriptions, arrangements and paraphrases
PERFORMER: Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.225187
This is a programme that has been begging to be made since the introduction of CD. Though Ian Hobson (Zephyr) and Carlo Grante (Music & Arts) have both recorded dedicated Schubert-Godowsky recitals, Scherbakov is the first to include every single Godowsky Schubert-related piece on the same disc.
He opens with the mighty Passacaglia (44 variations, cadenza and fugue on the first eight bars of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony), mistakenly described by Marco Polo as ‘an elaborate re-creation’: this is an original work by Godowsky, unlike the 16 transcriptions that follow. Scherbakov rises heroically to its complex musical and technical demands, unravelling its contrapuntal pleasures with clarity and joyful affirmation.
The 12 Schubert songs, ‘free transcribed’, are played in an order of Scherbakov’s devising which enterprisingly incorporates ‘Am Meer’ and ‘Trockne Blumen’, published for teaching purposes and never previously recorded. Occasionally he can be cavalier with Godowsky’s detailed dynamic markings (the pp sempre dolce opening of ‘Die Forelle’, for instance) but his affinity with the idiom and rich cushioned cantando (try ‘Litanei’) more than compensate. The Rosamunde ballet music and Third Moment musical provide a wittily elegant conclusion. Rewarding. Absorbing. More please. Jeremy Nicholas