GODOWSKY Piano Music Vol 2
Konstantin Scherbakov has been slowly working his way through the complete piano music of Leopold Godowsky since 1996. He has now reached Vol 11. The penultimate track is a dizzying performance of Godowsky’s brief, early (1889) Moto perpetuo in F – a work that harks back to Vol 1, containing the formidable recasting of the same work made a decade later, raised a semitone and retitled Toccata, Op 13. One other early work features on the present disc: Märchen (‘Fairy Tale’), a conventional but catchy character piece from 1888. The remaining music comes from late in Godowsky’s career, when he composed a series of pieces for the left hand alone. Six of these, issued separately, were also published in versions for two hands – the form in which they are heard here – and contain some of Godowsky’s most attractive music, winningly performed by Scherbakov (well recorded, incidentally, at Wyastone).
I don’t think it is the pianist’s fault that the Suite for the left hand alone (1929) sounds so dreadfully dull. The perception of endless even quavers throughout the eight movements, with their Baroque titles and late-Romantic polyphony, makes for a long 31'30". Far better is the Prelude and Fugue for the left hand alone on B-A-C-H, a truly inspired work, though I prefer Hamelin’s lighter touch and pedalling on his Musica Viva recording from 1988. Scherbakov finishes with the Symphonic Metamorphoses on themes from The Gypsy Baron. Leon Fleisher is more flamboyant on his 1991 Sony recording but Scherbakov makes one marvel anew at what just five fingers and two feet can achieve.