Notes and Editorial Reviews
"The Art of Transcription II is scarcely less impressive. If I am less taken with it, that’s because most of the original material, and some of the transcriptions themselves, are quite familiar. The Saint-Saëns-Liszt-Horowitz Danse Macabre (in which Marin holds his own but doesn’t improve on Horowitz’s own performance, missing some of its sense of fun), the Bach-Siloti Air on the G String, and the Rachmaninoff-Wild Vocalise—this piece is almost always heard in some transcription or other—are all extremely well played but are surpassed in interest by Sebastian Fagerlund’s 2007 Licht im Licht, which receives its first recording here. A Finnish composer, Fagerlund (b.1972) wittily interpolates fragments of Brahms’s sublime Haydn
Variations into dazzling keyboard textures of his own.
Over the course of these three discs, Marin develops a Beethoven-Liszt theme, juxtaposing original Beethoven piano music, Beethoven as his own transcriber, and, at the end, Liszt transcribing Beethoven. He also offers an original Liszt piano work, a transcription of a Liszt orchestral work, and Liszt’s transcription of Saint-Saens. As I listened, I found myself thinking about Busoni’s statement, “Bach is the foundation of piano playing, Liszt, the summit. The two make Beethoven possible.” Liszt’s transcription certainly makes Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony “possible” on the piano, though that isn’t what Busoni meant, but one does experience a sense of musical cross-pollination in hearing Marin go back and forth between these composers. Bach is a presence as well in the Vivaldi transcription and Siloti’s transcription of the sublime orchestral Air. A logical follow-up to these discs would be for Marin, who has the necessary transcendent technique, to record Busoni’s colossal Bach-inspired Fantasia Contrapuntistica.
In any case, the culmination of The Art of Transcription II is Marin’s magnificent reading of Liszt’s transcription of Beethoven’s Fifth. The highest compliment that I can pay to his performance is that it feels like a powerful, uneccentric performance of the symphony by a great conductor. None of Marin’s tempi, pacing, or dynamics make any concession to the work’s keyboard-related logistical problems."
FANFARE: Paul Orgel
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