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It only now remains for me to discuss this great artist's commercial CD recordings for Naxos and the Finnish label Alba.

At the present time, the division is between the budget label Naxos and the enterprising Finnish Alba label, where the main core of the artist's most admired, favourite music is explored in series of remarkable readings that feature depths of insight and originality of approach. His allegiances lean towards the master pianists of the past, ignoring any misguided, facile keyboard experimenters of the present who see themselves part of a historic revival movement dedicated to so-called authentic aims. Thankfully, Bach and Beethoven showed no inclination to become stifled by the conventions of their lifetimes, and Liszt -- consistently respectful towards other composers' constructive powers and stylistic virtues, often enhanced original works to gain new audience appreciation. But he was not the only composer gifted in this way.

J S Bach transcriptions by romantic composers leading up to a century later, ie Saint-Saëns, Siloti, Reger, d'Albert and Kabalevsky, provide new vistas of tonal colour to create sonic pictures of quite splendid diversity. From the beginning: Ouverture from the Cantata Wir danken dir Gott BWV29 rings forth with regal authority -- rather, one envisages in a way that Saint-Saëns might have played it in recital. Siloti -- more famous for cutting the final movement of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto -- has far more autumnal respect for the Adagio from the Sonata for Violin and Cembalo, BWV1018, and the famous Chaconne from the D minor Partita, BWV1005. Reger's magnificent treatment of the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV565 outplays Stokowski's brash orchestration, while d'Albert -- taking the excellent example of his teacher, Liszt -- reduces the muddy sonorities of the Passacaglia in C minor, BWV582 into measures of sterling clarity. The longer, and more involved Dorian Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV538 is the subject of a devoted and sustained experiment with primary colours by the Russian Kabalevsky, himself a fine pianist. Lauriala's uncanny perception in rubato voicings brings every facet alive. [Naxos 8.553761 F 62' 52"]

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Copyright © 4 March 2004 Bill Newman, Edgware UK


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