Piano rarities played beautifully




Danacord 799 /

5 stars

The annual festival of piano rarities at the northern German seaside town of Husum grows from strength to strength in its 31st year.

An aural snapshot of last year's festival is vividly captured in this 79-minute-long album. The works of 24 composers and transcribers are heard and it is tantalising to imagine what has not been included here.

There are complete performances of two works: Carl Czerny's Variations On A Theme By Carl Rode "La Ricordanza", with its florid elaborations fluently rendered by Italian pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi; and Russian Dmitri Blagoy's three-movement Fairy Tale Sonata, lovingly related by Vincenzo Maltempo, another Italian. They are the longest tracks, playing up to 12 minutes each.

From celebrated French-Canadian virtuoso Marc-Andre Hamelin comes his completion of an unpublished Chopin-Godowsky Etude (Nouvelle Etude No. 1), never previously recorded, and his own Toccata On L'Homme Arme, a thorny set-piece written for the 2017 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

There are short tracks, excerpts from works by Gabriel Dupont, Leonid Desyatnikov, Fikret Amirov, Abram Chasins and Paul Hindemith - not exactly household names.

This year's highlights also have a popular slant with transcriptions of songs by Poulenc (Les Chemins D'Amour), Grainger (Londonderry Air), Donizetti (Casta Diva from Norma) and John Green (Body And Soul).

The other pianists include Daniel Berman, Nadejda Vlaeva, Lukas Geniusas, Emile Naoumoff, Satu Paavola and Misha Dacic - all of whom are compelling artists.

The enjoyment quotient is very high and the recorded sound is close to excellent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2018, with the headline 'Piano rarities played beautifully'. Print Edition | Subscribe