The Seven Short Pieces for the Cultivation of Polyphonic Playing
(1923) show Busoni, more than ever, preoccupied with this important aspect of piano performance. The brief Preludietto
starts out as a two-part invention featuring inversion of the first part but soon moves to a four-part texture. The much longer second piece has active accompaniment figurations based on an imitative treatment of a three-note motif. The two-page third piece focuses on double-note figurations limited to thirds and sixths in alternating hands. The fourth piece, the most impressive one, consists of a chorale melody, presented like a cantus firmus, in long notes in one hand against swift triplet figurations in the other. The fifth piece is a Preludio
with many demisemiquaver figurations that, thanks to an anticipation of the theme, leads into the sixth, marked Nach Mozart
. This is a transcription of the music given to the two Armed Men in Die Zauberflöte
(Act 2, Scene 7); the accompaniment figuration in quavers is delicately restated quasi appoggiature in the last page. The seventh and final piece, entitled Mit Anwendung des III. Pedals (Steinway & Sons Sustaining-Pedal)
, is an early example of the use of the Steinway’s middle (or sostenuto) pedal, which Percy Grainger was to employ so often. The sonorities of the bottom one- or two-staff system are held by this pedal, while the contents of the top system can unfold without causing the music to become blurred. In some passages the pianist must depress the una corda pedal simultaneously.
from notes by Marc-André Roberge © 2013