to this point, Ferruccio Busoni was a one-hit wonder to me.
I knew of his Piano Concerto, that paragon of the late-late-Romantic.
However, I was not aware of other large-scale works of his until
this disc featuring the Violin Concerto came my way.
the facts that this is a “major label” release, and carries
the mug-shot of young, fresh-faced, big-name soloist augur its
importance? (OK, if one counts what one finds in the booklet
and on the surface of the actual disc, there are seven
head-shots of Frank Peter Zimmermann.) I won’t argue that cause
equals effect, but this is indeed a worthwhile release.
concerto appeared sixteen years earlier, yet Busoni’s is in
the same sound-world, though it also has the sinuousness of
melody one would find in the work of somebody like Szymanowski.
If anything, it is more relaxed, more lyrical, even pastoral
in tone than those two composers’ works. According the notes
for this release, the work was championed by Szigeti after Busoni
himself had repudiated it and moved on, and it served as inspiration
to Jean Sibelius in his own contribution to the genre. “Well
yes, I must admit, it is a good work — if unpretentious,” Busoni
responded to Szigeti after playing through the work together.
That too, concedes too much to modesty. It is more graceful
than bombastic, but it has its bravura moments — the right amount
at the right time -- and it is far from unassuming.
Storgards was a completely unfamiliar name to me, but a quick
internet search shows him to be a conductor of other things out
of the mainstream—for instance, Corigliano’s 2nd symphony,
and symphonies and concertos of Peteris Vasks, on Ondine. The
RAI National Symphony Orchestra (as its website tells
us) combined ensembles from Italian cities that have, throughout
the 20th century, had an illustrious performing history.
They serve as able accompanist here, even if they lack the greatest
depth of orchestral expression and execution.
considering this recording, the Violin Sonata no. 2 should
not be seen as afterthought or filler: it is a substantial and
compelling work in its own right. Not just music for musicians,
as some chamber music can be, or seem to be, this work too tells
a story that intends to communicate with an audience. Enrico
Pace - another new name to me - plays piano with a more-than-full
palette of colors, a great virtue in a chamber musician. The
notes indicate that Zimmermann and Pace play together regularly;
I would love to hear more of their work.
is a good guide for these works. He’s more of a singer, and at
times a dancer — elements that are plentiful in this music — than
he is the sort of cutter or thunderer that might be more appropriate
for other works in the repertoire. The only drawback I would
note about this disc is its lightweight, overly-glossy booklet
that provides little concrete information for newcomers to this
work. But that’s a small quibble overall: If you are interested
in investigating Busoni’s works beyond the Piano Concerto,
this disc would be a great place to start.