Renaissance Man

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 8

Since a good number of piano works by Busoni, Casella, and Respighi flirt with ancient content, it makes sense both conceptually and musically for Umberto Jacopo Laureti to juxtapose them with music by an authentic Renaissance figure such as Girolamo Frescobaldi. What is more, the latter’s keyboard pieces lend themselves to the modern concert grand. So do the peppery orchestrations of Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances as arranged by the composer for piano.

One might argue that Respighi’s piano version of a Frescobaldi Passacaglia inflates a modest church to the dimensions of a gothic cathedral, yet Laureti’s fluent technique and bronze-like sonority navigate the thick textures with no effort. By contrast, the relatively modest parameters of Busoni’s Macchiette medioevali benefit from Laureti’s focused fingerwork and crisply delineated rhythms. His energetic performance of Casella’s early Toccata Op. 6 proves more shapely and tonally appealing than the catalogue’s few other options. Yet he makes more monochrome an impression in Busoni’s Toccata, where Marc-André Hamelin’s suave control and pointed wit remain a point of reference. All told, an attractive and often stimulating program.

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Recording Details:

Album Title: Piano Renaissance
Reference Recording: None for this collection

Works by Busoni, Casella, Frescobaldi, & Respighi

  • Umberto Jacopo Laureti (piano)

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