Busoni: Piano Concerto, Op. XXXIX

Busoni: Piano Concerto, Op. XXXIX

by Marc-André Hamelin


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Busoni: Piano Concerto, Op. XXXIX

Ferruccio Busoni's Piano Concerto (1904) may be a behemoth, but it's no white elephant. Lasting well over an hour and demanding almost superhuman virtuosity from the soloist, it's a rarity both in the concert hall and on disc. It wasn't until the late 1960s, following the release of John Ogdon's pioneering recording, that Busoni's concerto first began to attract a cultlike following. And while it's unlikely this work will ever achieve the popularity of Rachmaninov's Third Concerto, Busoni's unique synthesis of Brahmsian lyricism and Lisztian flair is quite lovable on its own terms. The intricate piano part -- which sometimes seems to overflow with notes -- is viscerally thrilling yet masterfully integrated into the orchestral texture; Busoni could have easily called it a symphony instead of concerto. There's even a mystical aspect to the music, accentuated by a male chorus that sings an ecstatic hymn in the final movement. This recording by the sensational young Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin poses the first serious challenge to Ogdon's acclaimed version. A champion of neglected supervirtuoso works by Medtner, Sorabji, Reger, and others, Hamelin has the chops to plough through the thickest, thorniest passages and make music out of them. In the Busoni concerto, he understands that there are times when he must be a member of the ensemble, not the soloist -- as in the opening of the fourth movement tarantella, where he provides an edgy accompaniment for the orchestra's wild dance. Hamelin's tone is always marvelously rich, making the most of the music's full sonorities without ever banging. Most impressive of all, he finds reams of poetry in these cascades of notes. With vivid playing from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra led by Mark Elder and spectacularly clear sound from Hyperion's engineers, this recording should win new converts to Busoni's odd yet addictive art.

Product Details

Release Date: 12/14/1999
Label: Hyperion Uk
UPC: 0034571171432
catalogNumber: 67143
Rank: 14266


  1. Piano Concerto, for piano & orchestra with male chorus in C major, Op. 39, KiV 247

    1. I. Prologo e Introito (Allegro, dolce e solenne)  (15:35)
    2. II. Pezzo giocoso (Vivacemente, ma senza fretta)  (09:47)
    3. III. Pezzo serioso: Introductio (Andante sostenuto, pensoso)  (04:02)
    4. III. Pezzo serioso: Prima Pars (Andante, quasi adagio)  (04:43)
    5. III. Pezzo serioso: Altera Pars (Sommessamante)  (11:30)
    6. III. Pezzo serioso: Ultima Pars (a tempo)  (02:57)
    7. IV. All' Italiana (Tarantella) (Vivace: In un tempo)  (12:17)
    8. V. Cantico (Largamente)  (10:52)

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