Busoni: Piano Concerto

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WORKS: Piano Concerto
PERFORMER: John Ogdon (piano); John Alldis Choir, RPO/Daniell Revenaugh
CATALOGUE NO: 5 73857 2 (available only from HMV stores) Reissue (1968)
Busoni’s Piano Concerto is probably the most eccentric work ever composed in its genre, so perhaps it is not surprising that performances are still few and far between – few pianists, let alone orchestras and conductors, have the strength of stomach to take on its titanic structure. Ogdon’s recording from 1968 is almost entirely responsible for the renewal of interest in this work in the late 20th century. It has become something of a pianistic legend, and quite justifiably so: Ogdon, incandescently powerful and superbly accompanied by the RPO, still holds pride of place among the handful of recordings. Of the few more recent versions, Marc-André Hamelin on Hyperion is a fine choice, bringing out the tenderer aspects of the music as well as the elementally demanding ones; Mark Elder’s CBSO violins offer some luscious portamentos, too, though the recording is slightly let down in the final movement by a forced-sounding choir. Jessica Duchen