The Prélude et étude en arpèges
(1923) was Busoni’s contribution to the École des arpèges
by his friend Isidore Philipp (1863–1958), an eminent piano teacher at the Paris Conservatoire. The Prélude
of this thirteen-page work features two sections in bitonal, delicate volante arpeggios surrounding a melancolico section that develops into a quasi-étude for left-hand tremolos; a toccata-like coda concludes the piece. The opening of the Étude
reminds one of Chopin’s first étude from Op 10, with fast arpeggios played above a cantus firmus in long values in the left hand. Marked violinisticamente articolato, the piece’s chief difficulty is the unusual passage of a finger above or below the rest of the hand. It ends, not surprisingly, with a flurry of arpeggios in both hands held by the pedal.
from notes by Marc-André Roberge © 2013