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Josef Hofmann

Fabiana Biasini, Piano

HERA HER2120 [62 mins]

Ungarisch, op. 19, Nr. 1 *
Polnisch, op. 19, Nr. 2 *
Impromptu, op. 20, Nr. 1 *
Menuet, op. 20, Nr. 2 *
Elégie, op. 20, Nr. 3 *

VIII Preludes, op. 30 *

Vision, op. 40, Nr. 1 *
Jadis, op. 40, Nr. 2 *
Nenien, op. 40, Nr. 3 *
Kaleidoscope, op. 40, Nr. 4
Valse Caprice, op. 53 *


A rare pleasure to encounter a whole new repertoire and a fine charismatic pianist new to me (and I don't only mean because she is "an Italian beauty" as her record company very fairly claims!).

Famed as one of the greatest of pianists of his day, Josef Hofmann (1876-1957) turns out to be a thoroughly engaging composer, ripe for revival in recitals of romantic piano. His rather extraordinary biography (a child prodigy paid a vast sum by a discerning benefactor to not appear until he was eighteen!) is given in the interesting notes, which I commend.

Fabiana Biasini came across Hofmann's breathtaking recording of Kaleidoscope, researched his music in USA and has recorded a good selection of what she has unearthed. Nearly all are world premiere recordings, a few attributed to a pseudonymous "M. Dvorsky", a joke he enjoyed.

With an ear to authenticity, Fabiana Biasini recorded her selection on a Steinway Grand piano from Hoffmann’s time; its mellow "old" sound chosen as appropriate for the music. Her own commentary takes us through the pieces chronologically. Many are virtuosic, of course, the preludes Opus 30 are brief, sharply defined mood pictures showing Hofmann’s ability as a miniaturist which amateurs could profitably explore. Opus 40 is an example of his later maturity and refinement of style, including the use of more chromatic and complex harmonies, and the development of a nearly symphonic character. The Valse Caprice is a perfect example of his lighter “salon” music that never ceases to show musical inventiveness and a gift for melody. The last pieces bring to mind a slight French influence and some typical traits of Rachmaninoff.

Fabiana Biasini has an endearing way with rhythmic inflections and holds the attention easily; planning to sample, I played it straight through and will return soon to this special CD, which begs fair to be my piano record of the year.

The studio recording (New York, September 2005) is fine. No note of editions sourced or current availability of Hofmann's music? For his own recordings (not his own music) access Marston Records.

© Peter Grahame Woolf