It’s difficult to imagine what 20th century piano technique would be like without the influence of the Polish virtuoso Leopold Godowsky, whose 53 Studies on Chopin’s Preludes opened up immense possibilities for the left hand. Rachmaninov said of him he was the “only musician of his age who given a lasting, real contribution to the development of piano music”. And Ferenc Busoni, who knew him well from their days in Berlin and was a friendly rival, said he and Godowsky were the only composers with “new ideas” about piano playing.

By the time he died in America in 1938, Godowsky’s legacy included several works dedicated to him by pianist-composers, and 12 of these have been compiled by Jeremy Nicolas, author of a biography on Godowsky, for the Hyperion label for this sparkling release featuring talented young Russian pianist Andrey Gugnin.

The most substantial tribute comes from his close friend Josef Hofmann in the form of Charakterskizzen, four character sketches which opens this album. High on charm and dazzling virtuosity, like many of the works in this collection they combine the...

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