Victor Nicoara, a bona fide exponent of the piano music of Ferruccio Busoni, joins an increasing number of musicians determined to familiarize audiences with the Italian composer’s catalogue, bringing them “closer to an emotional understanding of… neglected masterpieces.” As such, Nicoara has fashioned an aesthetically pleasing album featuring Busoni’s Six Sonatinas – out of chronological order – set amongst smaller pieces. It is immediately apparent that Nicoara has long been devoted to Busoni’s art and brings a depth of interpretation and impressive conviction to his performance. The pianist displays attributes of expression not perennially associated with Busoni: a tenderness of line and sense of satirical gesture (with playfulness); a dreamy, almost absent-minded notion of soundscape, a rational lingua franca of harmony. (Busoni’s harmonic language can sometimes seem out of reach for many listeners.)
This is a disc to be thoroughly enjoyed, varied in scope with intimations of dusted-off treasure. The musical gemstones Nicoara brings to our ears from vaults below are not unknown, they’re just rarely heard and must therefore be reclaimed and re-appreciated in the natural light of day. Here is the conceit of Nicoara’s newest recording and he succeeds in its conveyance, admirably.
Outside of the sonatinas, a more novel highlight is the Nuit de Noël, BV 251. Without knowing, one might guess this music to be written by Debussy, Grieg or even a proponent of the Romantic English school. Finally, Nicoara’s own, Quasi Sonatina, illuminates the nooks and crannies of our aforementioned museum finds in “an attempt… to distill the spirit and compositional procedures of the works recorded…” As listeners, we revel in his sensitivity for the material: material he plays with an earnest, even humble, brand of pianistic expertise.