Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ferruccio Busoni - Orchestral Works (Gerd Albrecht)


Composer: Ferruccio Busoni
  1. Verzweiflung und Ergebung (Despair and Resignation), BV 248a (addendum to "Turandot Suite")
  2. Nocturne symphonique, Op. 43, BV 262
  3. Orchestral Suite from "Arlecchino", Op. 46, BV 266: I. Rondo arlecchinesco
  4. Orchestral Suite from "Arlecchino", Op. 46, BV 266: II. Processione e danza
  5. Orchestral Suite from "Arlecchino", Op. 46, BV 266: III. Finale
  6. Divertimento for flute & orchestra in B flat major, Op. 52, BV 285
  7. Sarabande & Cortège (2 studies for "Doktor Faust"), Op. 51, BV 282: Sarabande (Molto sostenuto e gravemente)
  8. Sarabande & Cortège (2 studies for "Doktor Faust"), Op. 51, BV 282: Cortège. In Carattere d'una Palacca
  9. Concertino for clarinet & small orchestra, Op. 48, BV 276
  10. Tanzwalzer, Op. 53, BV 288: Introduktion
  11. Tanzwalzer, Op. 53, BV 288: Walzer I
  12. Tanzwalzer, Op. 53, BV 288: Walzer II
  13. Tanzwalzer, Op. 53, BV 288: Walzer III
  14. Tanzwalzer, Op. 53, BV 288: Walzer IV

Robert Wörle, tenor (3)
Jean-Claude Gérard, flute (6)
Ulf Rodenhäuser, clarinet (9)
Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Gerd Albrecht, conductor

Date: 1992
Label: Capriccio



Had this not been the second instalment of Capriccio's ongoing Busoni Edition the programming of the pieces on this generously filled CD would not perhaps have struck me as odd, for here is a good cross-section of orchestral and concertante works displaying the various styles and techniques that Busoni adopted in the latter part of his life. However, as part of a series that is presumably dedicated to bringing us all the major works of this composer, I find it strange that we should be given the Nocturne symphonique, the Two Studies from ''Doktor Faust'' and the Rondo arlecchinesco, but not the Berceuse elegiaque or the Song of the Spirit Dance that form the remainder of the orchestral items that make up Busoni's six orchestral elegies. Surely, here was an ideal opportunity to unite them logically on one disc. Furthermore, whilst it is good to welcome the orchestral movement Verzweiflung und Ergebung (which Busoni appended to the Turandot Suite in 1911), would it not have been better to have included it on a future disc housing the complete suite? Perhaps I'm being over-fussy, but to my mind this would have been a far more logical presentation on disc.

Quibbles aside though, I have to admit that performance-wise this is a very recommendable disc indeed, for Gerd Albrecht is an ideal interpreter with a highly instinctive feel for Busoni's uniquely personal sound-world. A prime example is the Nocturne symphonique (one of the composer's many studies for Doktor Faust) where he admirably succeeds in conveying the eerie, amorphous atmosphere of this strange orchestral study, and this is also true of the other Faust Studies, ''Sarabande'' and ''Cortege''; with the disappearance from the catalogue of Daniel Revenaugh's excellent 1967 EMI recording (9/89) and Michael Gielen's account with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (Vox Cum Laude) these fine and atmospheric readings make a particularly welcome appearance.

The two concertante works—the Divertimento for flute and orchestra and the Concertino for clarinet and small orchestra—reveal Busoni the neo-classicist (though the 'darker' Busoni is never far below the surface) and are heard here in engaging and finely crafted performances by Jean-Claude Gerard and Ulf Rodenhauser respectively. The lyrical Concertino for clarinet, with its pastoral mood and Straussian elegance, is a personal favourite and it is a mystery to me why it should not have secured a firmer foothold in the repertoire. The Rondo arlecchinesco, Op. 46 is presented here with the ''Processione e Danza'' and finale which come from the closing minutes of the opera Arlecchino, though I should add that I can find no reference to the piece in this form in Antony Beaumont's book Busoni: The Composer (Faber & Faber: 1985). However, it appears to work, even if it does rather tend to take the shine off Busoni's surprise ending with its wordless tenor solo—here a short, but well-sung contribution from Robert Worle. The enigmatic Tanzwalzer (Busoni's homage to Johann Strauss II), with its strange and disquieting Mahlerian overtones, brings to a conclusion an exceptionally authoritative and well-recorded disc.

-- Michael Stewart, Gramophone

More reviews:


Ferruccio Busoni (1 April 1866 – 27 July 1924) was an Italian composer, pianist, conductor, editor, writer, and piano teacher. Busoni was an outstanding (if sometimes controversial) pianist from an early age. He began composing in his early years in a late romantic style, and later developed a more individual style, often with elements of atonality. Busoni's impact on music was perhaps more through those who studied piano and composition with him, and through his writings on music, than through his compositions themselves, of whose style there are no direct successors.


Gerd Albrecht (19 July 1935 – 2 February 2014) was a German conductor. He was the first non-Czech principal conductor of the Czech Philharmonic. In 1994, Albrecht refuse the invitation from Vatican to let the orchestra plays in a concert celebrating reconciliation between Roman Catholics and Jews, cause a controversy let to his resignation. He also held posts at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, the Hamburg State Opera and Danish National Symphony Orchestra, made commercial recordings for such labels as Capriccio and Chandos.


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