Bless the good burghers
of Husum and the enterprising Peter
Froundjian and Jesper Bühl of Danacord.
2004 saw the sixteenth annual Husum
Festival of Piano Music Rarities. As
with the previous Husum festivals Danacord
have now issued a disc to mark the event.
If you have any of the rest of them
then you will know that the pianists
who have perform at Husum bring with
them rarities to dust off and hold up
to an appreciative light.
The Belgian pianist
Edna Stern despatches the Haydn Capriccio
in lively fashion with the composer
seeming to allude to Beethoven at one
moment and Mozart the next. Boris Bloch's
Vivaldi arr. J.S. Bach is similarly
poised and clean-limbed although the
central movement recalls calming pieces
such as Schnittke's Spiegel im Spiegel.
By contrast Bloch dusts of Dargomizhky's
arrangement of Liszt's Tarentelle.
Which came first I wonder? This Dargomizhky/Liszt
display piece or Balakirev's Islamey.
There are resemblances.
Hamelin is well enough
known to us. His Chopin arr. Liszt is
sumptuous without languor and contrasts
with the pluvial drip and swirl of Anamorfosi
by Sciarrino - a transmogrification
of Singin’ in the Rain. Goossens'
Punch and Judy Show (from the
suite Kaleidoscope) is taken
at giddy player-piano velocity and ends
with a grin that clearly delighted the
audience. Ugorski, with his magical
impact-softened touch, gives us a predominantly
dreamy and contented Poulenc Thème
Varié although the composer
has the piece ending in Rachmaninovian
Igor Kamenz leads us
un-rushed through the Grainger's 1927
Ramble on 'Der Rosenkavalier'.
True to form Grainger again confirms
his status as a master of transcription,
sentimentality and fantasy. Just listen
to the crystalline whisper at 2.09 and
7'17 as the Presentation of the Rose
music conjures a silvery aura. Delian
and stretching languidly in the welcoming
sun is Cui's 1887 Far Niente
- dolce indeed.
It is typical of Jonathan
Powell that his recital should have
included sonatas by Stanchinsky, Feinberg
and Szymanowski. However he is recorded
here in the world premiere of Joseph
Marx's three Schmetterlingsgeschichten
(Butterfly Stories). The
complete sequence takes just about five
minutes. These are impressionistic pieces
in Marx's best warm luxuriant manner
often characterised by quietly chiming
music rounded with filigree flourishes.
collection is also stimulating. He has
already recorded both Stojowski concertos
for Hyperion (excellent too though not
high art!) so the presence of his Caprice
Orientale in a stormy inferno of
acceleration and becalming. It again
recalls Islamey (1.12). Anything
by Bortkiewicz is going to be worth
hearing. We really need a complete Bortkiewicz
Edition including the four piano concertos
and the concertos for cello and violin.
Here the Etude in D flat major is alive
with turbulence and reeks with hyper-romantic
fin-de-siècle gestures. You might
here think of Bortkiewicz as in the
same league as Medtner but without the
poetic complexity. Plowright rounds
out the disc with A Harrington Gibbs'
arr Art Tatum in Runnin' Wild in
which the pianist delights in stride
piano - a whirlwind roller-coaster of
Husum sets the unhackneyed
agenda again. Let's wish the festival
a long life. The foundations they lay
today are built on by other companies
tomorrow. For variety and for that 'surprised
by delight' experience do try this disc
or any of the other Husum Danacord collection.