The Godowsky Edition - Volume 7
Isaac ALBENIZ (1860-1909)
Triana from Iberia, Book II, No. 3 (concert arrangement) (transcribed Godowsky 1920s) [5:10]
Tango in D, Op. 165 No. 2 (concert version) (transcribed Godowsky 1920s) [2:57]
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Adagietto from L'Arlésienne (transcribed Godowsky 1920s) [1:49]
Carl BOHM (1844-1920)
Calm As The Night (Still wie die Nacht) Op.326 No.27 (transcribed Godowsky 1920s) [3:44]
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Rondino on a theme by Beethoven (transcribed Godowsky 1916) [3:59]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
The Swan (transcribed Godowsky 1920s) [2:38]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Ständchen (Serenade), Op. 17 No. 2 (transcribed Godowsky 1920s) [2:51]
Leopold GODOWSKY (1870-1938)
Symphonische Metamorphosen Johann Strauss'cher Themen, Drei Walzer-paraphrasen für das Pianoforte zum Concert Vortrag (1912): Künstlerleben [16:38]; Die Fledermaus [12:14]; Wein, Weib und Gesang [13:17]
Carlo Grante (piano)
rec. Studio Glanzing, Vienna and Sla Civica di Ponte San Nicolò, Padova, undated 
MUSIC & ARTS CD-1259 [65:37]
The seventh volume in Carlo Grante’s ‘Godowsky Edition’ ranges from the three extensive and pyrotechnic Johann Strauss transcriptions to the gentle evocations of Saint-Saëns’ Swan. They show Godowsky writing on both the grandest and most intimate of scales, therefore, in a programme that keeps its powder dry until unleashing the Strauss trio as the final pieces in the ten-track programme.
Grante’s immersion in Godowsky’s muse is by now an extensive as anyone alive, I should think. One can take for granted thorough preparation and a confident awareness of stylistic and technical niceties. He takes two of Godowsky’s Albéniz transcriptions, Triana from the second book of Iberia, and the Tango in D and plays them with delicious awareness of their buoyant warmth. The rhythmic snap of Triana is especially commendable, so too its textual clarity, and the tastefully refined way Grante brings it to life. Most transcriptions of the Tango cede to Kreisler’s for the violin, but Godowsky’s purely pianistic reworking is faithful and only modestly elaborate.
There follows a lovely sequence of equally modestly sized refashionings, music that is wittily and warmly embellished but not smothered. The Adagietto from L'Arlésienne is delightfully done and Karl Böhm’s lovely song Still wie die Nacht receives a suitably beautiful transcription. This is one of the highlights of the disc and shows Grante at his most plangent and sensitive. Another is The Swan, dappled and draped with refinement and great warmth by Godowsky, and pianist, alike. Kreisler does in fact appear but under his own name in the shape of his Rondino on a theme by Beethoven, transcribed (or at least published) in 1916, and played with the necessary wit here. Godowsky’s rippling carapace adds textual allure to Richard Strauss’s Ständchen.
The three big Johann Strauss metamorphoses, or paraphrases, or arrangements - the last of which seems an inadequate word in the circumstances - present considerable demands on the performer. Künstlerleben is extremely tough and Grante proves a commendable guide. However if critical stakes are to be raised, Marc-André Hamelin [Hyperion CDA67626] plays it with an even greater sense of fantasy, colour, whip-crack virtuosity and bravura. He is noticeably quicker than Grante in all three of these Strauss transcriptions and this increased adrenalin ensures that his performances are now the contemporary marker in this repertoire. Grante sounds just a touch heavy, especially in Die Fledermaus, after such galvanising drive.
Nevertheless collectors of this unfurling series will find very much to their liking here.
Collectors of this unfurling series will find very much to their liking here.