LABELS: Naxos Historical
ALBUM TITLE: Ferruccio Busoni and his pupils
WORKS: Works by Busoni, Liszt, Chopin,
PERFORMER: Ferruccio Busoni, Egon Petri, Michael von Zadora, Edward Weiss (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.110777
By reputation, Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) was one of the finest pianists of his or any age. His only recordings date from a single session in 1922 and provide tantalising glimpses of an interpreter who (like Rachmaninov, another outstanding composer-pianist) has strongly analytical conceptions of the pieces he plays and displays a rhythmic incisiveness that makes his performances seem persuasively communicative. Busoni disliked making recordings, and surely the results are not representative of his best work. Even so, each surviving performance contains something to treasure or ponder, not least the energetic scampering in his arrangement of Bach’s ‘Rejoice, beloved Christians’ or the richly articulated account of Chopin’s E minor Etude. Busoni’s playing may reveal a bygone age’s more improvisatory conception of textual fidelity, but it remains inspiring for distinctively reconciling the competing claims of intellectual insight and virtuoso technique. Naxos offers very smooth transfers and fills the remainder of the disc with performances of Busoni arrangements and original compositions played by some of his leading students. Egon Petri’s pianistic prowess and interpretative fire closely resemble Busoni’s own; Michael von Zadora and Edward Weiss too show clear signs of their pedagogical lineage.