Almost a Transformation
plays Busoni -
K C DEVEREAUX
'... Rubenstein's hand is steady on the tiller.'
The Italian composer and pianist Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) is chiefly known today for his opera Turandot, mainly because it isn't Puccini's Turandot, and for his transcriptions, notably of Bach. (It is said that contemporaries often thought his name was Bach-Busoni.) Although acquainted with Schoenberg he never departed entirely from tonality in his work, although he questioned its strictures as purely arbitrary in his book Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music, published by Schirmer in English translation from the German in 1911 (and available for perusal on Googlebooks). The titular Seven Elegies are a compendium of new material and themes reworked from his piano concerto -- the famously challenging Piano Concerto in C major, Op 39 -- and from his Turandot. The pieces are very unstructured rhythmically but pianist Rubinstein does an excellent job staying the course and making sure the occasionally subtle melodies emerge from what, in less skilled hands, could have been a muddy left-hand chordal swamp.
Elegy No 1, Nach der Wendung ('After the Turning Point'), is a study in ascending and descending harmonies, the sonic equivalent of interlocking Escher staircases...
Copyright © 21 September 2010
K C Devereaux,
CD INFORMATION: DAVID RUBINSTEIN - BUSONI