Piano Classics presents the first volume in a major new series which promises to become the most comprehensive recorded survey of a central but now little-known figure in 19th-century Italian music. Born in Rome in 1841, Giovanni Sgambati cut an impressive but relatively familiar figure as a prodigious young virtuoso until, as a 21-year-old keyboard lion in the making, he was introduced to Franz Liszt. The encounter changed Sgambati's life. Liszt, perhaps the single most influential figure in European musical life in the middle of the 19th century, took the young Sgambati under his wing, and his faith was richly repaid. Still in his 20s, Sgambati conducted the Italian premiere of the Dante Symphony and even the premiere of the first (lengthy) part of the Christus oratorio. There is an irony that the single piece through which his name has travelled worldwide is a piano Melodie, a sensuously achieved transcription of the Dance of the Blessed Spirits from Gluck's opera Orfeo ed Euridice. Guaranteed to hush a rapturous audience into silence, it became the much-loved encore piece for the late Nelson Freire, among others. Too little of Sgambati's music for his own instrument is known beyond the Melodie. This neglect is being redressed in style by the Italian pianist Gaia Federica Caporiccio, born in Florence in 1988. The first volume of a projected complete series of Sgambati's piano works proceeds in mostly chronological fashion. Thus the curtain is drawn back with a flourish in the Gothic, Bachian arpeggios of the Prelude and Fugue Op.6.