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Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924)
Lustspielouvertüre Op. 38 [7.53]
Symphonisches Suite Op. 24 [33.45]
Berceuse Elégiaque [8.28]
Gesang Vom Reigen der Geister Op. 47 [6.00]
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Arturo Tamayo
rec. Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin Dahlem, 17-20 Aug 1992. DDD
CAPRICCIO 10 480 [75.49]


While not as generously timed as its companion in Capriccio's underexposed Busoni Edition this is well worth adding to the first volume (10 479 see linked review).

Busoni had many dimensions. In the Comedy Overture various voices went into the ‘mix’ including Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, Dvořák's Eighth Symphony, Beethoven's Pastoral and even Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony. The brass in particular get a real outing. This is an exuberant concert opener and should be heard more often as an alternative to Donna Diana, Carnival or Roman Carnival.

The Symphonic Suite is in five well-balanced movements: the first (a Prelude) of about ten minutes and the other five minutes each. The Prelude combines various elements including an accompanimental figure that links with Smetana's Vltava as well as Tchaikovskian dialogue (5.32), ominous Brucknerian gravity (6.31) and a dashing Schumann style at 6.24. The Gavotte has a relaxed ambling manner lead by the oboe - a delightful piece. The Gigue also features the solo oboe amid what amounts to a disquieting scherzo with a Mendelssohnian pattern but a darker underbelly. The langsames intermezzo sounds like the more melancholic sections of Brahms' Haydn Variations. There follows a finale allegro fugato with a gruff energetic manner that is part Beethoven's Pastoral (Storm) and Fifth (4.57), part portentous Bruckner (1.32) and part Sibelius (3.20). Much brilliant use is made of solo woodwind lines throughout. The piece ends majestically and with magnificent brass-emphasised affirmation. It is dedicated to Hans Richter.

His 1910 Berceuse Elégiaque has that mesmerising concentration of vision that also characterises the Nocturne Symphonique and the Sarabande and Cortège on Capriccio 10 479. It is an ‘In Memoriam’ to his mother and is clearly very deeply felt. Its gloomy mien is lightened by typically tender writing for solo wind instruments, by a long-limbed theme for the violins (3.23) and by a rocking motif that closely parallels the opening of Rachmaninov's Isle of the Dead. Its wondering mood and drift towards Scriabin's extreme style is rather in keeping with the fact that it was the ailing Mahler who conducted the premiere in New York on 21 February 1912. It was Mahler's last public appearance.

The Gesang is for orchestra alone. It is from the ‘Indian Diary’ and was written at the end of 1915. This is a lively piece moving forward at an urgent gait without bursting into a presto. Red Indian elements are not prominent.

As with volume 1 (conducted by Gerd Albrecht) this CD carries exemplary documentation from Reinhard Ermen - translated by Lionel Salter. The chronology sets these works well in biographical context.

The performances here are once again superbly realised and recorded.

Rob Barnett

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