Paderewski and Godowski, two great representatives of the Romantic pianistic tradition, also composed, and their works are sufficiently significant and enduring that they are still played by piano virtuosos today. They both belonged to the generation of pianists for whom the performance of musical works also meant their own compositions. In those days, it was generally accepted that virtuosos presented their own works during performances.
Argentinian pianist Nelson Goerner, already renowned as an artist displaying great facility in many different areas of the repertoire, including Polish music, decided that he was ready to take up the admirable challenge of recording some of the most important (and most difficult) works by Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Leopold Godowski.
His interpretations of Paderewski’s Op. 23 and Künstlerleben by Strauss-Godowski already merit our recognition for the very fact that he is tackling these extremely difficult works. Yet Goerner is a pianist with far broader horizons, aspiring in his interpretations to an ‘artistic ideal’. We hear this in his approach to Paderewski’s Variations, where he shows in an extremely interesting not to say revelatory way their excellent compositional qualities: their clear development, rich technique and above all monumental form, reaching a grand climax in the closing fugue. In a word, we have here a creation that shows Paderewski to be a master of the largescale cyclical form, clearly heading in the direction of modernist solutions.
Künstlerleben by Strauss-Godowski, meanwhile, remains a work regarded as an ‘open book’. In Nelson Goerner’s rendition, it is a composition in which the
breathtaking technical aspect can be perfectly combined with ... elegance.