Famed for his piano miniatures and his fantastically elaborate transcriptions, Godowsky wrote only two large-scale original works for the piano. The huge five-movement Sonata (1910 / 11), one of the most imposing works of its type, is powerfully dramatic and, like most Godowsky, often very contrapuntal. It has a beautiful slow movement, a delightful scherzo, and a monumental 20-minute finale that includes a fugue on the name B-A-C-H. It deserves to be far better known. The Passacaglia was written in 1927 in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of Schubert's death, and is subtitled »44 variations, cadenza and fugue on the opening theme of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony«. The piece has earned a reputation as being among the most difficult in the repertoire, partly because of Horowitz's flippant comment that it required six hands to play it – it is in fact superbly pianistic. This is the first time that these two works have appeared on the same disc.
Anyone who has heard Marc-André Hamelin's Gramphone Award-winning set of Godowsky's complete Studies after Chopin's Etudes will want this equally phenomenal follow-up. The performances are spectacular.
»Breathtakingly brilliant … Marc-André Hamelin proves not only that it's possible, but that it's definitely worth the effort. Revelatory« (BBC Music Magazine)
»eloquent, pointed, and moving … A recommendation would be superfluous – this is one for the ages« (Fanfare, USA)
»Handily coupled and as well played as you're ever likely to hear« (International Piano)
»Hamelin's performance is a magnificent achievement … All lovers of Godowsky's magic will snap up this finely recorded album« (Gramophone)
A. Csampai in stereoplay 6 / 02: »Ein Meisterwerk des 20. Jahrhunderts, das von fast allen früheren Klaviergöttern unbegreiflicherweise – und zugleich aus nachvollziehbaren Gründen: Horowitz etwa hielt es schlicht für unspielbar – links liegen gelassen wurde.«