Ferruccio Busoni was known in his lifetime as a brilliant if cerebral pianist and revered as a teacher. His pupils included Kurt Weill. As a composer he has long been known for his piano arrangements of Bach’s music; his widow was once introduced as Mrs. Bach-Busoni. It was said of his musical style that he wrapped the past around him like a protective cloak as he looked towards the future. A child prodigy, Busoni dismissed hundreds of pieces he wrote in his teens.
His move to modernism manifested itself in this series of six Piano Sonatinas, composed between 1910 and 1920. His increasingly drifting harmonies, bell sonorities and Bach-inspired counterpoint are all here, and in No. 6 ( Fantasie on Carmen , based on Bizet’s themes) we get a taste of his virtuosic pianism. Romanian pianist Victor Nicoara plays the Sonatinas out of order (Nos 1 and 2 come last, aptly as they are the most modern), mixing them up with the three short Album leaves and the 1908