Giovanni Sgambati (1841-1914)
Complete Piano Works, vol. 7
This seventh and last volume of the complete piano works of Sgambati, who was one of the most authoritative of Liszt’s pupils and an extraordinary leading force in the musical life of Rome in the second half of the nineteenth century, is a supplementary appendix and presents a general survey of all the sides of Sgambati’s creativity. It contains almost exclusively unpublished pieces, including his last notturno, the transcription for four hands of his first important symphonic work (the Sinfonia Festosa, played by Francesco Caramiello and Francesco Libetta), and an unpublished, brilliant piano version of Bach’s Suite in B min. BWV 1067 that follows the great tradition of Liszt’s school, alongside the well-known transcriptions by Tausig, d’Albert and Siloti. Here Sgambati avoids the allurement of a lofty sonorousness, and prefers a limpid texture and bright overall resonance, differing from the contemporary transcriptions by Martucci and the later ones by Busoni, which were characterised by a massive orchestral writing. Sgambati’s transcription preserves the clarity of the contrapuntal structure, without any concession to grandiosity of sound.