Ferruccio Busoni was a maestro Italian pianist who revolutionised piano transcription, truly bringing it into the modern era. At a time when transcriptions of organ music for piano clung tightly to the Romantic tradition, Busoni had the courage to take an interpretative, emancipatory approach, bringing out all of the unique qualities of the piano in his work, while remaining faithful to the core of Bach’s compositions. The comparable virtues of ‘rhythmic precision [and] greater impetuosity’ which he attributed to the piano are very much audible in this extraordinary album, from the delightful Prelude and Fugue in D major to the grandiose and virtuosic Two Toccatas, which Busoni placed at the very top of his ascending scale of difficulty for the transcriptions. The moods in this set range from soaring, majestic pieces that seem to aim straight at the heavens to poignant moments of the most sublime intimacy.
At the time, Busoni’s transcriptions were popular and controversial in equal parts, but his enduring success is manifest in the fact that today, his name has become inextricably linked with Bach. Perhaps most crucial to this achievement was, as album artist Sandro Ivo Bartoli puts it, his ‘lifelong, esoteric flirtation with achieving the impossible’.
Sandro Ivo Bartoli is one of the foremost interpreters of early 20th-century Italian piano music, and has played all over the world with orchestras such as the Philharmonia in London and the Deutsche Philharmonie. He also collaborated closely with the late great pianist Shura Cherkassky.
- Recorded: 20–23 April 2013, Gran Teatro Giacomo Puccini, Torre del Lago (Lucca), Italy.
- Ferruccio Busoni (1866 - 1924) was one of the most famous and important pianists of his time. As a composer he wrote in an eclectic style, lateromantic, sumptuous and highly chromatic, with certain “modernist” elements.
- Busoni had a great reverence for Johann Sebastian Bach, he edited all his keyboard works, and transcribed several of his works for piano solo, making use of all the piano’s rich possibilities and sonorities. He transcribed organ works (among which the famous Toccata & Fuga in D minors and the wellknown Choralvorspiele) and the iconic Chaconne from the Partita for violin solo in D minor, one of his most famous works, and a standard warhorse of many a piano virtuoso.
- Italian pianist Sandro Ivo Bartoli is an eloquent and fervent advocate of these works, his rich, deep sound perfectly catches the sonorities and character of the organ.
- Booklet contains comprehensive notes (by Sandro Ivo) on the music and an artist biography.