Francesco Piemontesi – Bach Nostalghia (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/48 kHz | Time – 52:06 minutes | 841 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © PentaTone
If the arrangements of J. S. Bach by Busoni and Co. in the early 1900s were intended to make the Baroque composer’s works sound more modern, today they perhaps feel more like relics. But these are sumptuous relics, each transcription stunningly rendered by Swiss pianist Piemontesi, bringing out the grandeur of Bach’s organ works and the crystalline beauty of his music for flute and harpsichord. Piemontesi’s performance of the Italian Concerto is lithe and supple, which makes for a thrilling, addictive listen. And his bookending of this wonderful collection with Busoni’s majestic version of the monumental “Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Major” for organ is an ingenious nod to the Clavier-Übung III, Bach’s masterful collection of chorale preludes. Hidden among all of this is an original work by Busoni, the startling “Toccata,” which serves to refresh the ears.
On “Bach Nostalghia”, Francesco Piemontesi presents original works of Bach, alongside Bach transcriptions and works inspired by Bach from Ferruccio Busoni, Wilhelm Kempff and Maximilian Schnaus. Whereas many modern-day musicians aim to revive the instruments used in Bach’s own time, Piemontesi explores the tradition of Bach transcriptions for piano. This tradition started in the nineteenth-century, found its most prominent exponent in Busoni, and is still alive today, as Schnaus’s transcription of Kommst du nun, Jesu, vom Himmel herunter demonstrates. Despite using an instrument not yet existing in the composer’s time, Busoni and others sought to interpret Bach’s music with utmost reverence and study, expanding our notions of authenticity and Werktreue. For Piemontesi, playing Bach through the eyes of Busoni and Kempff incites a sense of nostalgia, re-establishing the ties to a rich pianistic tradition.
The album title alludes to Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia, a 1983 film about the untranslatability of art and culture.
1. Prelude & Fugue in E-Flat Major, BWV 552 “St. Anne” (Transcr. F. Busoni for Piano): I. Prelude (08:32)
2. Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659 (Transcr. F. Busoni for Piano) (04:42)
3. Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645 (Transcr. F. Busoni for Piano) (04:03)
4. Italian Concerto in F Major, BWV 971: I. Allegro (04:00)
5. Italian Concerto in F Major, BWV 971: II. Andante (04:16)
6. Italian Concerto in F Major, BWV 971: III. Presto (03:54)
7. Flute Sonata in E-Flat Major, H. 545 (Attrib. J.S. Bach as BWV 1031): II. Siciliano [Transcr. W. Kempff for Piano] (03:16)
8. Kommst du nun, Jesu, vom Himmel herunter, BWV 650 (Transcr. M. Schnaus for Piano) (03:07)
9. Toccata, BV 287 (09:16)
10. Prelude & Fugue in E-Flat Major, BWV 552 “St. Anne” (Transcr. F. Busoni for Piano): II. Fugue (07:00)