Notes and Editorial Reviews
Wolf Harden's Busoni cycle reaches a high point with Volume 5. Almost alone among pianists who've tackled Busoni's formidable Bach "St. Anne" transcription on disc, Harden does not aim to imitate the organ, but instead pares down the booming basses and delivers the treble register octaves with cutting brilliance and meticulously shaped ornaments. Only in the fugue's climactic final pages does Harden's energy flag. Similarly, he brings welcome transparency to the full-bodied, Schumannesque textures throughout the early Op. 16 Etudes and the later, more harmonically sophisticated Op. 33b pieces.
Volume 5 offers the Chopin Variations in their compressed 1922 revision, which is no less ambitious and difficult than the
longer, earlier version on Volume 2. Harden plays superbly, particularly in regard to his deft balancing of rapid, chromatic passagework as it zooms in and around block chords and pillar-like bass octaves. Richard Whitehouse's informative booklet notes and Naxos' warm, clear engineering make this disc all the more attractive. Strongly recommended.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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