Notes and Editorial Reviews
As I've noted in previous reviews, the nature of the keyboard writing in Liszt's massive organ fantasy and fugue based on the chorale Ad nos, ad salutarem undam from Meyerbeer's Le Prophete lends itself well to the piano. Although Liszt himself made an effective piano duet arrangement, Busoni's two-handed piano version can stand toe-to-toe with Liszt's B minor sonata as a virtuoso showpiece. That is, if you have the right pianist.
By and large, Wolf Harden is up to the task. He effortlessly navigates the outer sections' technical difficulties and stamina-testing textures, and sensitively sustains the central lyrical movement. Perhaps the latter emerges with more austere transparency in Hamish Milne's Hyperion studio
recording, while the formidable fugue benefits from Giovanni Belluci's greater animation and dramatic sweep in an out-of-print recording on the small Assai label. And perhaps you could imagine more incisive and assertive interpretations of the weak "fake Brahms" F minor sonata Busoni wrote as a teenager and of the composer's late, bitonally obsessed Prélude et etude arpèges. However, this is definitely worth it for "Ad nod" and for Richard Whitehouse's extensive, highly informative booklet notes.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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