Busoni: Late Piano Music [Marc-André Hamelin] [Hyperion: CDA67951/3] Box set
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Audio CD, Box set, 4 Nov 2013
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Elegies, BV249 - Nuit de Noël, BV251 - Fantasia after J S Bach, BV253 - Kammer-Fantasie über Carmen, BV284... / Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Playing with unfaltering lucidity and authority,Hamelin achieves an astonishing triumph even by his exalted standards. --Gramophone, Nov'13
What comes through on listening to Hamelin is the underlying consistency of his approach over this music as a whole and, above all, the singularity of Busoni's musical vision and its relevence to composers and pianists almost a century on. --IRR, Dec'13
Busoni was a figure whose music seems to reflect the weight of history. Perhaps this was inevitable after his parents named him Ferruccio Dante Michelangelo Benvenuto Busoni. He certainly lived up to expectations when he became not only a phenomenal pianist but an accomplished conductor, a hugely important theorist and a composer of unique vision. Though latterly he became best known as a transcriber of the music of others (notably Bach), his own music has considerable power and impact and much of the time great seriousness of intent. This set is devoted to Busoni's late piano music, which embraces the last 17 years of his life. By this point, the serious has become still more refined, the contrapuntal writing still more intense and concentrated, the experiments in tonality still bolder. Yet it's not all po-faced; witness the impish Perpetuum Mobile, the Sixth Sonatina (based on Carmen) or the Elegies, whose range of mood is not even hinted at by their title. One of Hamelin's great strengths as an artist, apart from his legendary technical facility, is his understanding of musical lines, his ability to draw from pages black with notes a clarity of vision. This serves him exceptionally well in the pieces from the Klavierübung or the Toccata: Preludio, Fantasia, Ciaccona. Hamelin combines clarity with a deliquescent beauty in the off-puttingly titled but absolutely compelling Seven Short Pieces for the Cultivation of Polyphonic Playing, while revealing the solemn beauty of the noble Andante from the Indianisches Tagebuch or the last of the Three Album Leaves. This is very much the music of a man looking inward. If you look inward with him, you enter a quite magical world. And Hamelin's performances, warmly recorded, are worthy of the composer himself, which is no mean feat. ***** --ArtsDesk, 17/12/13
Top customer reviews
Here he and Hyperion give us a three disc set of the late piano music of Busoni.
This music will be unfamiliar to many people, other perhaps than his Piano Concerto, again recorded by Hamelin and released on the same label.
The piano music has been neglected by many pianists and the only other recordings on my shelves are a six set release of Busoni's music from Geoffrey Douglas Madge, recorded for Philips and released in the 1980s.
I shall not list the complete contents and they can easily be found in Amazon's advertizing. However on CD1 is included seven Elegies, number four of which uses the 'greensleeves' melody.
CD2 includes four Sonatinas.
CD3 has, amongst other works, a wonderful Toccata and enjoyable variations on the Chopin Prelude in C min., op.28 no.20.
It is true that this music requires complete attention and, in some cases, repeated listening to fully appreciate the style of writing. Busoni was uncompromising in his writing and many were and are put off by the heavy modulation of the writing and length of some of the compositions. Yet this music is essentially tonal and will give much pleasure to those prepared to explore a neglected genius.
If you have an opportunity to sample before buying, try track one of the third CD. Here is a blazing Toccata, played here with an amazing virtuosity, showing once again that Mr. Hamelin is in a league of his own.
This pianist is the perfect guide as an introduction to this music which has so much to offer the patient listener and I urge you to try Busoni. You may just find yourself liking him very much ! At around 25 Pounds for the three disc set, this represents a real bargain.
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