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CD Review

Tanski Plays Busoni & Liszt

Claudius Tanski, piano
Dabringhaus & Grimm MDG3121323-2 75m DDD

The main works on this album certainly need no introduction: J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations are considered a landmark of 18th century keyboard music, while the Petrarch Sonnets #4, 5 and 6 are part of the staple repertoire of almost every pianist.

Still, the domineering composer here is most definitely Ferruccio Busoni, whose music is always inventive, stimulating and often captivatingly original. His version of the 'Goldberg' is a fine example of his admiration for Bach as well as his innate ability to create a modern work and still retain its original ambience, in this case, 'baroque'.

When Busoni set out on his revision for modern concert performance, he had to take into account the progress made in piano building since Bach's day and also the necessity to tighten up the work.

When the revised Goldberg Variations were published in 1914 the number of variations was cut down from 30 to 20 and the music was not only heavily modified, but also incisively altered, particularly in the latter part. He also made additions deriving from the practice of improvisation. Busoni's most drastic change is, however, the turning of the work into an inseparable whole that culminates in the return to the aria on which the work is based.

Liszt's Petrarch Sonnets #4, 5 and 6 are here presented in the revised 1858 version, nonetheless, their freshness and poetic content remain undiminished. The 1877 'Resignazione' is a short 29-bar piece full of pathos and inevitable resignation, which is in keeping with the work's title.

The German pianist, Claudius Tanski, winner of many accolades, certainly rises to the occasion, delivering performances of profound beauty interspersed with moments of ecstatic delight. A disc to stimulate and uplift.

Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech