Busoni - the philosopher
of the keyboard - is here presented
in the first of two volumes documenting
his orchestral output (excluding the
two concertos). The accent is on Busoni
as the writer for the operatic stage.
This represents a major contribution
to Capriccio's Busoni Edition complementing
discs on DG, EMI and other labels.
The fleetingly short
Turandot extract starts
and ends like a thunderous mix of Tapiola
and Bruckner 8 with a calming central
episode. The score is dedicated to Karl
Busoni's ‘theatre capriccio’
Arlecchino provides a
source for the orchestral suite. The
music contrasts with the Turandot
extract being elfin and circus-ring
orientated. It sounds very close to
Prokofiev at first but other voices
emerge in more ways than one. Sibelius
can be heard unmistakably and uncannily
at 1.20 in the Rondo Arlecchinesco
first movement of the suite and
Mahler is hinted at from time to time.
Towards the end and for a very few moments
there is a part for a tenor vocalise
in Neapolitan mode. Here it is taken
with gusto by Robert Wörle. Although
dubbed a suite it is essentially an
11 minute Rondo and two microscopic
anhangs: a 1.45 Processione e danza
and a Osmin-accented Presto.
suggests dark deeds, plotting - almost
the backdrop to a Restoration play with
bloodletting aplenty but with a Rubbra
texture rather than anything flamboyant.
It is dedicated to Oskar Fried. In this
piece the music drifts close to Berg
territory. In fact it also reminded
me a little of 1930s Wellesz and occasionally
of one of Busoni's pupils, Sibelius
(4th symphony vintage). Albrecht sustains
the demanding mood very well and injects
plenty of interest. The piece ends expectantly
with a ‘sigh’ from tam-tam and cymbals
and a passive gesture.
The Nocturne's concert
companion the Sarabande and Cortège
(or Two Studies) from
Dr Faust is also here and impresses
afresh with its single-mindedness of
mood. Sombre colourings, a Wagnerian
rasp to the brass, an Italianate sweetness
to the yearning melodic content and
a Sibelian/Rubbra like epic tread (4.13)
all impress. Busoni ends the piece downbeat.
The Cortège has a heavy
beetling tread (remarkably like
the ostinato in Sibelius's Nightride
and Sunrise). Here is another nocturnal-conspiratorial
mood piece carrying the rumour of war.
There are two concertante
works here: a Flute Divertimento
and a Clarinet Concertino,
each about the length of a concert overture.
The flute work has some stunningly recorded
flights for the brass and indeed for
the flute which caprices and volplanes
in light-hearted (well almost) Germanic
mood. This sometimes veers very close
to bel canto as in the whisper
ostinato set up at 4.10 over which the
flute, here breathily played, sings
a long-lined melody - a bit of a stunner!
The mood of this music parallels that
of the Violin Concertos of Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari
and Siegfried Wagner (see CPO reviews
elsewhere on this site). The clarinet
work is again in one movement and is
full of grateful writing, at times sounding
like the more serenading parts of the
Nielsen Flute Concerto and at others
like Mozart's Clarinet Concerto. There
is no capitulation to the bankrupt stock
of vapid virtuosity for its own sake.
were written in memory of Johann
Strauss and in sincere admiration. However
this is no pastiche. A typically darkling
plain is conjured in the Introduction.
Then come four waltzes. The first sounds
rather Tchaikovskian with some delightful
antiphonal effects faithfully picked
up between the loudspeakers. The explosive
second also sounds Tchaikovskian with
a dash of Mahler sauce. The Third smiles
in Neapolitan charm. The final waltz
oompahs with the best before decorative
silvery flummery beams in confidence
and even brashness.
The performances are
superbly rounded and confident in their
Tchaikovskian optimism as well as in
their conveying of dark moods. I am
still recovering from the many Sibelian
cross-references - fascinating.
The disc carries exemplary
documentation from Reinhard Ermen -
translated by Lionel Salter no less.