Gerard Hoffnung CDs
Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924)
Violin Sonata No. 1 in E minor Op. 29 (1890) [26:38]
Violin Sonata No. 2 in E minor Op. 36a (1898-1900) [32:56]
Four Bagatelles Op. 28 (1888) [6:53]
Benjamin Loeb (piano)
rec. The Country Day School, King City, Ontario, 1-4 August
NAXOS 8.557848 [66:27]
is a good example of a composer whom Naxos is doing proud.
So far largely concentrating on his earlier works, it has
begun a complete piano series which has reached volume
3. Discs of orchestral
music for two
pianos and his complete works for the cello and
piano have also been issued. Making such by-ways of the repertoire
readily available and affordable could be regarded as an
international public service. This new disc also contains
early works although it is worth noting that Busoni virtually
stopped writing chamber and instrumental music after 1900.
two violin sonatas are in three movements and are quite extended
but the second is markedly more original. The first was written
in Helsinki and is conventional in form. The opening allegro pays
an audible debt to Beethoven in particular. Violinist Joseph
Lin finds pathos in the central slow movement, taking the
marking Molto sostenuto as literally as possible.
The material for the finale which follows is, unfortunately,
rather less inspired.
the time the second sonata was composed Busoni was living
in Berlin although it was premiered in Helsinki by Viktor
Nováček with the composer at the piano. During the 1890s
he had been preoccupied with his career as a virtuoso pianist
but now feeling that he had found his voice as a composer
Busoni declared the work to be “his real opus one”. Structurally,
it turns the form book upside down with two slow movements
flanking a central tarantella taken at Presto and
lasting a mere two and half minutes. This movement is the
only Italian footprint on the disc – all the rest bears out
Busoni’s adopted Germanic heritage. The first movement is
even marked Langsam while the extended finale is a
set of variations which follows the tarantella without a
bagatelles which conclude the disc are brief but pleasant
diversions – perhaps another way of saying they were allotted
appropriate titles. Each has an underlying theme which Busoni
takes and develops a little further. No one is likely to
fail to spot the Viennese Dance Tune of the third bagatelle,
although picking the composer might be more of a challenge.
Lin’s tone is pleasing and he receives excellent support
from Benjamin Loeb. The performances are dedicated and have
been sympathetically recorded. There are informative liner-notes
are by Richard Whitehouse.
previous reviewers have found for most of the discs cited
above, Busoni’s cause is very well served.
see also review by Evan Dickerson
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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