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Busoni: Music For 2 Pianos
 
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Busoni: Music For 2 Pianos

13 Dec. 2005 | Format: MP3

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Song Title
Time
Popularity  
30
1
27:51
30
2
14:42
30
3
8:13
30
4
7:14

Product details

  • Original Release Date: 13 Dec. 2005
  • Label: Naxos
  • Copyright: (C) 2005 Naxos
  • Total Length: 58:03
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001LZU63E
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 4 Jan. 2006
Format: Audio CD
To the extent that piano music by Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) is known to the average music-lover, it is in the form of the fairly straightforward hyphenated piano arrangements of the music of other composers, e.g. Bach-Busoni. But he wrote a lot of original music and some of it was for two pianos. Here we have four such works, including the two-piano version of his pianistic masterpiece, the highly original and fascinating half-hour-long Fantasia Contrappuntistica. I had never heard this version before - I'm very familiar with the one-piano version - and must say that from its initial peremptory dotted-figure opening through to the end of the final stretta it commands the listener's attention. Part of the work is a set of variations based on Bach's chorale 'Allein Gott in der Höh'sei Ehr.' Typical of Busoni, he couldn't leave the original one-piano version alone -- it went through several versions and finally was arranged as here for two pianos, and then, thinking to make it the final movement of a gigantic two-piano sonata, he added three further movements, also heard here. Each of these pieces can be played as a stand-alone work, but the cumulative power of hearing the four pieces in succession is pretty impressive. On this CD, however, the Fantasia Contrappuntistica is Track 1, so if you want to hear the putative 'sonata' as Busoni considered presenting it, you must program your CD player to play tracks in the following order: 2 3 4 1.
Track 2 contains the so-called 'Improvisation on the Bach Chorale "Wie wohl is mir, o Freund der Seele"', which in its original form had been part of a violin sonata. (See how complicated Busoni's oeuvre can get because of his penchant for changing his mind about the form various works should take?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Horbus on 20 July 2006
Format: Audio CD
This is a magnificent release - I urge to buy it as soon as you can. Unfortunately in many places it seems to be sold out but persevere and you will hear what true piano duo playing should sound like. Wonderful synchronization and uninamity of purpose allied to a life-like piano sound make it essential listening. Recorded in a concert hall (as opposed to studio)and the advantages are immediately obvious. The 'Fantasia Contrappuntistica' in particular acquires a true sense of 'acoustic scale'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Hodgson on 27 Aug. 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I purchased this CD as one half of the Duo was my old piano teacher from the Birmingham Conservatoire of Music (John Humphreys). Both John and Alan Schiller have been playing piano duets together for many years and their performances are well-oiled and technically adept. This CD highlights some of the lesser known piano works and would be for those who want to broaden their pianistic repertoires, as well as music college students wanting to hear some excellent piano duet playing - a little heavy at times for the average classical music listener, but the playing is excellent (but then I am a little biased).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Rarely Heard Busoni Two-Piano Music 4 Jan. 2006
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
To the extent that piano music by Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) is known to the average music-lover, it is in the form of the fairly straightforward hyphenated piano arrangements of the music of other composers, e.g. Bach-Busoni. But he wrote a lot of original music and some of it was for two pianos. Here we have four such works, including the two-piano version of his pianistic masterpiece, the highly original and fascinating half-hour-long Fantasia Contrappuntistica. I had never heard this version before - I'm very familiar with the one-piano version - and must say that from its initial peremptory dotted-figure opening through to the end of the final stretta it commands the listener's attention. Part of the work is a set of variations based on Bach's chorale 'Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr.' Typical of Busoni, he couldn't leave the original one-piano version alone -- it went through several versions and finally was arranged as here for two pianos, and then, thinking to make it the final movement of a gigantic two-piano sonata, he added three further movements, also heard here. Each of these pieces can be played as a stand-alone work, but the cumulative power of hearing the four pieces in succession is pretty impressive. On this CD, however, the Fantasia Contrappuntistica is Track 1, so if you want to hear the putative 'sonata' as Busoni considered presenting it, you must program your CD player to play tracks in the following order: 2 3 4 1.

Track 2 contains the so-called 'Improvisation on the Bach Chorale "Wie wohl ist mir, o Freund der Seele"', which in its original form had been part of a violin sonata. (See how complicated Busoni's oeuvre can get because of his penchant for changing his mind about the form various works should take?) Just as the outer movements of this 'sonata' are based on Bach's music, the two inner movements are based on themes by Mozart, another of Busoni's gods. Movement Two (Track 3) is entitled 'Fantasie für eine Orgelwalze', based on a trivial Mozart tune actually written for barrel organ, K. 608. It is, actually, a pretty weighty movement, and sounds more like the Busoni we're used to from his many hyphenated arrangements. This is followed by Movement Three (Track 4) called 'Duettino Concertante nach Mozart' which is based on the finale of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 19 in F Major, K. 459. It acts as the Scherzo (albeit in 2/4) of this putative sonata and is entirely winning.

The two pianists here are Alan Schiller and John Humphreys, both British and neither of whom I'd heard of before. They apparently have been playing together for many years, although each has another career as a soloist and teacher. They certainly seem to have the sound of a duo who think and breathe together. (Their rapid-fire double-thirds trills and scales are breathtakingly synchronized.) Sound is clear and lifelike, if just a bit shallow. This is a marvelous exposition of rarely-heard music by an altogether under-appreciated 20th century composer.

TT=58:01

Scott Morrison
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Exceptional pianistic and musical experience 10 April 2006
By Tunstall - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I agree with Scott Morrison - this must be one of the most gripping (and natural sounding)performances of this repertoire on disc. Although a 'studio' recording the playing sounds 'alive' and physical in a way that studio performances often do not. The pianists are suberbly matched and the stereo separation of the two Steinways is a credit to the production team.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
"A disproportionate task for ten fingers" 22 July 2007
By Hexameron - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Naxos' thorough survey of Ferruccio Busoni's (1866-1924) solo piano music (Busoni: Piano Music, Vol. 1) has so far reached three volumes. I hold all of them in high esteem and I believe Naxos showcases a remarkable champion of Busoni with the pianist Wolf Harden. In addition to the on-going solo piano music series, Naxos has also released two issues of Busoni's chamber music; very rare and exquisite stuff: Busoni: Complete Works for Cello and Piano and Busoni: Violin Sonatas; Four Bagatelles. It's not surprising, then, that Naxos has seen fit to promulgate Busoni's original works for Two Pianos.

Those new to Busoni may want to explore Naxos' solo piano music volumes first. I wouldn't call this specific recording supplementary, but I appreciated it far more after examining Busoni's solo piano music. Most will agree that the "Fantasia Contrappuntistica" is Busoni's most soaring and striking composition. Based on an unfinished fugue subject from Bach's "Art of Fugue" and the chorale, "Allein Gott in der Hoeh sei Ehr," Busoni creates a dizzying, magnificent and totally arresting behemoth of music. I am acquainted with John Ogdon's and Wolf Harden's interpretations, and although I cannot say Schiller and Humphreys surpass them in any respects, this two-piano performance still amplifies the expression behind Busoni's cerebral ideas. Busoni thought his Fantasia was "a disproportionate task for ten fingers, whereas divided between twenty it would be easy and transparent for player and listener alike." But the ten fingers of Schiller and Humphreys accomplish the task with virtuous results. Not only is the spirit and nobility behind this gargantuan work fully realized, but two pianos really enhance and clarify the layers of polyphony.

As the reviewer Scott Morrison keenly points out, Busoni had in mind to arrange the four pieces on this recording into one gigantic work. Thus it is strange that the track numbers were not aligned to correspond with the movement-scheme according to Busoni's suggestion. Nevertheless, the piece that could constitute Busoni's "first movement," the beautiful and august "Improvisations on Bach's Chorale," is played with convincing sonority on two pianos. The piano duo sounds completely engrossed in the music, too: besides immaculate precision in all the counterpoint, Schiller and Humphreys emphasize the Romantic side of this music with majestic swells in dynamics and a supple tempo. The other two pieces which could be considered the "middle" movements of Busoni's epic version, are both essentially transcriptions of original music from Mozart. Dr. Kenneth Hamilton, the liner-notes writer, calls Mozart's Fantasy for a Barrel-Organ K. 608 "surprisingly stern and weighty." And Busoni's robust arrangement for two pianos adds to the "weight" of Mozart's music. Busoni certainly maintains all of Mozart's charm, but also manages to subtly convey his own touches as well. I won't say a lot about the Duettino Concertante, which is really a piano transcription of the Finale from Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 19. Without a doubt the movement exemplifies a brilliant and lovable Mozart. Allan Schiller is renowned "as one of the finest Mozartians of his generation," so one can expect an artful and suave execution.

Bottom line: Busoni novices and completists alike can find musical ambrosia here. I would recommend that beginners to Busoni's music explore the solo piano music first, especially Wolf Harden's performance of the "Fantasia Contrappuntistica." The strengths of the other three compositions on this disc are unquestionable, though. Conclusively, the continuous expertise and musicality in the interpretations by Schiller and Humphreys heighten the quality of this already splendid music experience.
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