Musical Opinion

This is an outstanding CD, in which full credit must go to the technical and musical expertise of the Melbourne-based sound engineer and producer Leslie Craythorn, who has caught the atmosphere and brilliant playing of Trevor Barnard’s exceptionally vivid accounts of the highly contrasted, yet equally forward-looking works.Busoni’s set of Preludes using the same sequence as Bach and other composers including Shostakovitch, is an extraordinary feat of youthful genius, since they were completed when he was only fourteen. As such they contain energy and innovatory keyboard invention which anticipates future works, including the great Piano Concerto. Trevor Barnard had studied with Busoni’s pupil Herbert Fryer when he was in his early teens and has championed Busoni’s music throughout his career. It is his intimate understanding of Busoni which brings special significance to this performance, placing it in context while also displaying the youbng composer’s fascination with Bach’s genius and his own growing delight in the modern piano of his time.Sir Arthur Bliss’ Piano Concerto was recorded by Barnard under Malcolm Sargent and is to be re-released by Divine Art in the near future. The first official recording of the Sonata was made by the Australian Rhondda Gillespie on the Argo label, paired with Constant Lambert’s Sonata and both these Australian pianists worked with the composer on their interpretations. Barnard’s approach makes much of the fiery power of the outer movements, while placing the serene Adagio in a contrasted context. As such it would be fascinating to hear him in a new interpretation of the concerto.

—Denby Richards