20th February 2019
The pianist talks to Katherine about his recording of the Italian composer’s gargantuan Piano Concerto of 1904, released this week on Myrios with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo.
“This performance of Busoni’s Piano Concerto is as superhuman as it is meant to be.” – Alfred Brendel
Once a towering inspirational figure in the musical life of Berlin, later a crucial influence on musicians as diverse as Sibelius, Varèse, Schoenberg and Weill, Ferruccio Busoni is now being rediscovered by a new generation of performers and listeners.
Kurt Weill wrote: “Ferruccio Busoni has been called the last Renaissance man. It is strange enough that such a phenomenon appeared in our time. We are bound to think of Leonardo. In him also we find that comprehensive spirituality which strives to open up all attainable spheres. Such individuals are immortal not only through their work but through the radiation of their personality, through the gradual influence of their humanity.”
Busoni’s sui generis five-movement Piano Concerto is a work that bears comparison to Liszt’s Faust Symphony and Mahler’s Eighth. This revelatory new recording by pianist Kirill Gerstein with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the men of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus conducted by Sakari Oramo is a landmark in the wider acclamation of a singular genius who mapped a sublime 20th century alternative to the modernist revolt of Stravinsky and Schoenberg.
The album includes a deluxe 88 page booklet containing rarely published photographs and documents from the Busoni archive at the Staatsbibliothek Berlin. In-depth English and German essays by renowned Busoni scholars Albrecht Riethmüller and Larry Sitsky discuss Busoni’s creativity and the piano concerto.