Johann Sebastian Bach: Klaviertranskriptionen, Vol.2 - Ferruccio Busoni Import
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Following the success of Nikolai Demidenko's first disc of Busoni's transcriptions of Bach (CDA66566), here he completes the project. Busoni developed an individual approach to re-casting Bach's organ works for the piano, and utilizes a full range of sonorities to recreate the sound and effects of the organ. These transcriptions were so popular during Busoni's lifetime that his wife was once introduced by a society patron as Mrs Bach-Busoni! This disc includes several lesser-known chorale preludes, the imposing Chaconne (originally for solo violin, although Busoni views it very much as another organ transcription), the D major Prelude and Fugue BWV532, and two rarities the E minor Prelude and Fugue (BWV533) that Busoni used to illustrate his transcription techniques in the appendix to his edition of Bach's Das wohltemperirte Clavier, and the Fantasie, Adagio and Fugue, which is a hybrid work conjoining two Bach keyboard works (two thirds of the fugue is entirely by Busoni, as Bach left it unfinished). Nikolai Demidenko conjures a magnificent sound from his Fazioli piano, and draws on his unique palette of instrumental colour. Anyone who has heard his first Bach-Busoni disc will want this follow-up. This disc is also part of a new Hyperion series exploring the wealth and diversity of piano transcriptions of Bach.
'Enthusiastically recommended' (Fanfare, USA) '[Demidenko's] performances capture the smouldering long lines and Gothic grandeur inherent in Busoni's textural transformations of the originals' (International Record Review) 'Demidenko plays them all with great panache and limitless technical command, clearly relishing the vast array of colour that Busoni's fertile imagination encourages' (The Guardian) 'Nikolai Demidenko performs all the music here with admirable devotion ... The playing throughout this enterprising recital cannot be faulted' (BBC Music Magazine) 'Demidenko s full-blooded readings of the D major Prelude and Fugue BWV 532 and the monumental D minor Chaconne from BWV 1004 have the necessary tingle factor, backed by sensational recorded sound' (Music Week) 'From the opening notes of the Fantasia, Adagio and Fugue with which the CD begins there is a lightness, vivacity and ease to Demidenko's playing which engages the attention' (Pianist) 'This is some of the most colossal piano playing I've ever heard. In its nobility, its grandeur, its multi-dimensionality and its astounding command of piano sonorities, it's worth the price of admission by itself' --(Piano Magazine)
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Taking this idea of multiple possibilites with Bach's music and applying it to interpreting Busoni's transcriptions reveals another layer of possibility. Bach's music is so great that it can weather multiple interpretations without any harm. There are other excellent versions of some of these transcriptions but that doesn't render any of them "better" or "superior". Demidenko's vision is a muscular Bach yet it also is a deeply poetic Bach. His vision is more towards the long term architecture of Bach's vision. There are multiple ways of phrasing and presenting these rich, dense journeys of polyphony and Demidenko's is marvelously satisfying.
Bach is like a living language. Busoni showed it can endure the changes and trends in music and his romantic vision of it proved successful and valid. The modern piano makes possible even greater revelations and the results are compelling here. Demidenko comments that the Fazioli piano used on this recording has the ability to sustain the treble range beyond any other piano. He felt this allowed him to tailor his playing to this capability and in the process, reveal new ways of expressing the music. The result is more living Bach, a new vision and unique presentation of perhaps the greatest musical composer in the history of man. The CD ends appropriately with the Chaconne from the solo violin partita #2 in d minor, perhaps the greatest cry from the heart ever made in music.
This is a fantastic CD and anyone who loves Bach and understands the potential of his music to continue to evolve will garner great pleasure from it. 5 stars all the way around.
Demidenko also does a particularly good job of the Fantasia and the Chacconne, although some might find the Chaconne a little too slow for their liking. However don't get the wrong impression, Demidenko can break into great moments of power and speed. This is Demidenko's late romantic playing at its best.
He also gives a good account of the Prelude and Fugue BWV 532, although its not up to Gilels account of the same piece. Gilels manages to create a beutiful organ like sonority from the piano, and gets the tempo just right in each part. However Demidenko's faster fugue makes for a barnstorming interpretation.
I recommend this disc highly, as I said especially for the exceptional playing of the chorale preludes, and also the Fantasia and Chaconne. My one reservation regarding this disc is the sound. The tone could be a little fuller (perhaps the piano needed to be closer to the mike?) which is unfortunate because Demidenko is using a beutiful Fazioli piano. Don't let put you off though, because the recording quality is still superb.