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Busoni - Historic recordings

Busoni and His Legacy

Ferruccio Busoni (1868-1924);
Bach: Well Tempered Clavier. Book I
Prelude and Fugue in C major
Bach-Busoni: Nun freut euch, lieben Christen
Beethoven-Busoni: Ecossaises
Prelude in A major, Op. 28/7
Etude in G flat, Op. 10/5
Nocturne in F sharp, Op. 15/2
Etude in E, Op. 25/5
Etude in G flat, Op. 10/5
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody no. 13
rec. in London 1922

Rosamond Ley (1882-1969);
Jeux d'eau a la Villa d' Este (1942 first publication)
Sonata apres une lecture du Dante (1942 first publication)

Egon Petri (1881-1962) with Hans Rosbaud/Frankfurt
Liszt: Totentanz (1936, first section missing)
Busoni: Piano Concerto, Op.39: IV (1932 first publication)

[TT: 71'51"]

Busoni & his pupils

Ferruccio Busoni Recorded 1922
Bach: Prelude aud Fugue No.1 in C (from The W-T Clavier, Book 1)
Bach-Busoni: Chorale Prelude - Rejoice, Beloved Christians
Beethoven-Busoni: Ecossaise in E flat
Nocturne in F sharp, Or. 15, No.2
Prelude in A, Or. 28, No.7
Etude in G flat, Or. 10, No.5 ("Black Key")
Etude in E minor, Or. 25, No. 5
Liszt : Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13 in A minor
Egon Petri
Bach-Busoni: Chaconne
Busoni:Albumblatt No.3: In der Art eines Choralvorspiels;
Elegy No.2: All'Italia! In modo napolitano
Michael van Zadora
Busoni: Sonatina No.3: ad usum infantis; Sonatina No.5: in diem nativitatis Christi MCMXVII (1938)
Sonatina No.6: Chamber Fantasy on Themes from Bizet's Carmen (1929)
Edward Weiss
Busoni: Indian Diary, Book I (1952)

Naxos 8.110777

Paul Jacobs: the legendary Busoni recordings

Six Short Pieces
Sonatinas 1-6
Bach/Busoni 10 Organ Chorale Preludes
Brahms/Busoni 6 Organ Chorale Preludes

Studies by Stravinsky, Bartok, Messiaen

ARBITER 124 [Recorded 1976/1979; TT 66+79 mins]

There is an overlap here with both the early historic CDs carrying all of the half-hour of Busoni's own recordings; he hated the recording process, as graphically described in extracts from letters which are included in the introductory noted by Allan Evans in the Arbiter reissue. As always with this indispensible firm, documentation is exhaustive and fascinating, and available at the press of a key; here we have essays by Heinrich Neuhaus and by Jonathan Summers.

The Arbiter CD is the more expensive, but well worth adding to your collection for the inclusion of Egon Petri playing Totentanz, one of my favourites of Liszt's music, and the tarantella from Busoni's piano concerto. Although you won't need another version of the Sonatinas alongside Jacobs, it is well worth acquiring for a paltry £5 the Naxos Busoni & his pupils disc, for more Petri and for Busoni's Indian Diary.

Paul Jacobs (1930-1983) was a leading American pianist of his generation, and one of the first great artists to die of AIDS (then still an unnamed disease). I have treasured his account of the Sonatinas on LP, and it is fine to have them in this rich context.

Busoni's little known short pieces (1922 etc) are studies 'for the cultivation of polyphonic playing'; very modern in feeling with many levels of contrapuntal activity, 'the harmonic rhythm seeming to operate at speeds different from the dramatic gestures' writes Jacobs in his erudite essay. The last of them is based on Mozart's men in armour.

The Sonatinas, the best way into Busoni's sound world, range from the faux-naive to the ultimate pianism required for Sonatina No 6 super Carmen. The transfers are immaculate and the essays by Jacobs on the music and Teresa Sterne about the pianist are comprehensive. Highly desirable; you can read the liner notes on Arbiter's website.


© Peter Grahame Woolf