Friday, March 28, 2008

200 Years' Worth

Preludes, Fugues and Variations
Music of Bach, Beethoven, Franck and Rachmaninov
Frederick Moyer, Piano
JRI Records, J101
  • Bach/David Moyer: "Herr Christ, der ein'ge Gottes-Sohn"
  • Beethoven: Twelve Variations on a Russian Dance
  • Franck/Bauer: Prelude, Fugue et Variation in b minor
  • Rachmaninoff: Three Preludes from Op. 23: No. 2 in B-flat Major, No. 4 in D Major, No. 5 in g minor
  • Bach/Busoni: Prelude and Fugue in D Major, BWV 532

Here's a fun recording from concert pianist Frederick Moyer. He has collected a recital of various pieces which conform to the basic forms of Franck's triptych: preludes, fugues or variations. For the preludes, we get three piano preludes from Rachmaninov's Opus 23 set, a transcription of Bach's organ chorale prelude Herr Christ, der ein'ge Gottes-Sohn, BWV 601, and Busoni's transcription of Bach's Prelude and Fugue in D Major, BWV 532; that piece gives us our fugue, along with Franck's Prelude, fugue et variation in b minor, which latter piece gives us a variation planform; this is followed by Beethoven's substantial Twelve Variations On a Russian Dance, WoO 71.

I confess I have too many recordings of both Ferrucio Busoni's transcriptions of Bach's organ works and of Rachmaninov's preludes as well. But there are relatively few transcriptions of Cesar Franck's organ works for piano, and this is the first I'm aware of that transcribes this particular piece. In any case this collection of pieces in a single recital makes an intriguing grouping, and a welcome addition to my collection.

The CD issues from the small, new-to-me label JRI Recordings, whose catalog exists almost entirely of recordings by this pianist. Regardless, the recording is excellent, quiet and fairly closely-miked. Mr. Moyer plays with a deft touch and a very deliberate manner. I did find a few of his phrasings a bit distracting, especially when the organ transcriptions essentially gave him more notes to play than he had fingers; his idiomatic interruption of melodic line to surmount these difficulties is expertly handled (that is, with the same confident deliberateness of the rest of the performances), but nonetheless seems always to catch me a bit off-guard.

Small potatoes. It's a fine performance of an interesting collection of pieces, well-recorded and played.

No comments: