BBC Music Magazine

Once again Metier is doing Michael Finnissy proud. This is the fourth release in its ongoing Finnissy survey, and the second to feature the extraordinary pianism of Ian Pace. And what a feast it is. The Verdi Transcriptions form the vast centrepiece, but are framed by two concertos for solo piano (cf Alkan) and two shorter pieces, Snowdrift and to and Fro. As ever with Finnissy, the range of expression is vast. By turns beautiful and disturbing, and rarely less than thoroughly captivating, he refuses to be pigeonholed, always remaining capable of subverting our sense of order or disorder.

The 18 pieces of the Verdi Transcriptions, ranging from barely more than a minute to a near half-hour fantasia, each draw material from a different opera. In some, such as that based upon the Romanza from Aida, the source material is readily apparent. Elsewhere the original is simply a starting point, while some pieces are his reaction to the mood created by the relevant points in the operas. The result is something thoroughly new, and entirely compelling, especially when given the ardent advocacy of Ian Pace, whose ability to combine thoughtfulness with extreme virtuosity can be heard nowhere better than here. Recommended. *****

—Christopher Dingle