Global Fascinations and Sophistications
Despite our knowledge of Busoni's commanding stature as a pianist,
there have been few opportunities in the concert world for making a conclusive
case for his stature as a composer-innovator of importance in the development
of musical form and taste. A musician fully conscious of past composers'
achievements stemming back to the classical age, forward to a time of richly-conceived
romantic ardour, and beyond that to experiments with atonality. Busoni felt
duty bound to strive for release from that to discover a personal language.
We now have much music that signifies the quest of his endeavours. There's
the hour-long Piano Concerto with men's chorus; a beautiful Violin
Concerto that Szigeti first championed; works for piano on disc in magnificent
recordings by Egon Petri and others; the incandescent Berceuse Elegiaque
for orchestra, operas Arlecchino, Doktor Faust and Turandot.
Look in the current record catalogue and you will discover far more that
indicates a revival, and there is the significant biography by E.J.Dent
for further studies. No one can deny artists' allegiances from the
past and present, but if I single out the pianist Carlo Grante for his part
it is for his electrifying performances at London's Wigmore Hall.
Grante's latest CD provides three works for piano and orchestra
(I Pomeriggi Musicali and its conductor Marco Zaccarini) as a new
point of departure. Concerto per pianoforte accompagnamente di quartetto
ad arco, written when Busoni was just 12 may recall Field, Hummel, Mozart
and Beethoven, but the setting here upgraded for string orchestra takes
us beyond the classical era into the romantic peregrinations of Mendelssohn
and Schumann in its added colourful charms. Concertstück für
Pianoforte mit Orchester (1890) won Busoni the Rubinstein Prize [listen -- track 5, 0:00-1:00].
Although the influence is Brahms (the D minor Piano Concerto)
the distinct bitonal interplay overlays the grandiosity, whilst Indianische
Fantasie für Klavier mit Orchester (1913-1914), evolving from an
interest in American Indians some three years earlier, involves experimental
harmonies that surround an anthology of their themes. Fascinating to hear,
the performances admirably catch the flavour of invention. I look forward
to further Busoni in the series.
Copyright © 15 November 2000
Bill Newman, Edgware, UK
CD INFORMATION - MUSIC AND ARTS CD 1047
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