Busoni – Piano Music, Vol. 12

Naxos’ project to record Ferruccio Busoni’s complete piano works has earned great critical respect over the years, not least for the inclusion of rarely heard early works, transcriptions and the outstanding performances throughout by Wolf Harden. We now reach the penultimate volume in the project; the concluding album will be released in November. The programme duly includes the seminal presence of J.S. Bach, three strikingly original sonatinas, a robust interaction with Schoenberg, and a little⁠-⁠known nugget of Christmas charm in his Nuit de Noël. As with previous programmes, the mix of early and mature works makes for a superbly satisfying programme, with Wolf Harden’s excellent performances captured in the Wyastone Concert Hall, widely acknowledged as an ideal acoustic for piano music.

The essence of Ferruccio Busoni’s music lies in its synthesis of emotion and intellect, rooted in his Italian and German ancestry. His Sonatinas typify the stylistic range of his maturity, with the First Sonatina unfolding with the spontaneity of an improvisation. Veering between darting angularity and ominous expectancy, the Second Sonatina is one of his most radical musical statements, while the poise of the Fourth Sonatina marks Busoni’s closest approach to Impressionism. The Drei Albumblätter represent Busoni at his most austere and profound, reflecting the mystical character of his late music.

Listen to an extract from 3 Albumblätter:
2. Andante
About the Artist

Wolf Harden, one of the most versatile pianists of his generation, has enjoyed great success as a member of the Trio Fontenay, the ensemble he founded in 1980 and with which he has appeared at all the world’s major music centres. He devotes himself not only to chamber music but, with the same success, to the solo piano repertoire. His concert tours have taken him to South America and India as well as to countries throughout Europe, and his special affinity with unusual repertoire is attested by numerous recordings. He was the first to record a complete version of Hans Pfitzner’s Piano Concerto and has recorded piano music by Ernő Dohnányi, Franz Lehár and Ferruccio Busoni.

Previous albums in the Busoni Complete Piano Works series
‘Each [piece] is a gem, a delight to be savored from a composer who was to develop into a master of more complex extended forms. The notes are good, the sound excellent, and the pianism is perhaps the best this pianist has given us so far.’
American Record Guide
‘Wolf Harden’s clean, refined, and fully committed pianism makes the best case for these early works on disc, along with Naxos’ fine engineering and Richard Whitehouse’s accurate, perceptive booklet annotations.’
‘Any pianist who takes on the challenge of Busoni’s piano music in an extended series has got to have a technique of impressive proportions. Harden … certainly fills the bill.’
American Record Guide
‘[Harden] digs into Busoni’s massive chord climaxes like a hungry trencherman about to enjoy his aged Porterhouse steak, and he shades the composer’s polytonal arpeggios with great sensitivity. There’s no doubt that [he] has the technique and temperament for this repertoire.’

View all Features »