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Following in the footsteps of Marc-André Hamelin’s incomparable Godowsky recordings for Hyperion comes Andrey Gugnin’s Homage to Godowsky, a tribute revealing the awe in which Leopold Godowsky (1870-1938) was held. Names from the age of Romantic virtuosity come thick and fast – Hofmann, Sauer, Friedman, Leschetizky – with many first recordings.

This is a box of heady and decadent delights with enough acrobatics to make lesser mortals gasp in wonder. If there are periodic reminders that composers of a truer stature can say more with two notes than the cascades that pour from these legendary figures, that in no way invalidates this dazzling and enterprising release.

Winners include Hofmann’s ‘Kaleidoscope’ (an outsize etude forever associated with Cherkassky); a perky ‘Jadis’, also by Hofmann, far remote from Liszt’s late and dark offering of the same title; some characteristically graceful and scintillating Moszkowski; and most of all, Busoni’s arrangement of Liszt’s ‘La Campanella’ etude. Gugnin’s performance of the Busoni is among the most characterful and articulate on record, and elsewhere he is more than equal to every ferocious demand. Hyperion’s sound is exemplary.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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