Ferruccio Busoni

Piano Concerto, for piano & orchestra with male chorus in C major, Op. 39, KiV 247

    Description by Sol Louis Siegel

    Ferruccio Busoni's Piano Concerto -- a 70-minute, five-movement work whose performing forces include a male chorus -- is likely the most massive work for soloist and orchestra in the repertory; the composer himself once referred to it as "my Skyscraper Concerto." What is most remarkable about the Concerto is that the immense labor of the musicians yields a momument of absolute music, signifying nothing but itself. Stylistically, the work is a synthesis of turn-of-the-twentieth century past and present, as well as the twin legacies of the composer's German and Italian parentage.

    Busoni eschews a "display" role for the soloist -- though the piano part requires both considerable technique and stamina -- instead calling for an equal partnership of piano and orchestra. The opening movement, Prologo e Introito, begins with a lengthy orchestral introduction, followed by the piano's entrance with an extended series of massive chords. This expansive movement progresses through a variety of moods, introducing motives that recur throughout the work. The second movement, Pezzo giocoso, is a lively rondo filled with dance rhythms, which finally drifts into silence. The central Pezzo serioso, about 20 minutes long, is itself divided into four parts: "Introdactio," darkly colored and suggestive of some primordial mist; "prima pars," which rises to a great and noble climax; "altera pars," stormy music marked by harmonies that anticipate the mature language of Prokofiev and Stravinsky; and "ultima pars," in which the music returns to its mysterious beginnings. The fourth movement, All' italina, is a spectacular, virtuosic tarantella which leads directly into the final Cantico. Here the chorus joins in with words from Oehlenschlaeger's Aladdin: "Now the dead world is fully enlivened/Praising godliness the poem grows silent." The piano underscores the chorus and orchestra before bursting free in a jubilant coda.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Prologo e Introito
    2. Pezzo giocoso
    3. Pezzo serioso
    4. All' Italiana
    5. Cantico: Hebt zu der ewigen Kraft Eure Herzen (with male chorus)

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2011 Naxos 8572523
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099945632
    2007 EMI Music Distribution 72467
    2007 EMI Classics 3724682
    2007 Apex
    2007 Apex 4643902
    2005 Music & Arts 1163
    2003 SOMM 015
    2002 Telarc Distribution 80207
    1999 Hyperion 67143
    1999 Philips 454987
    1999 Philips 456913
    1994 Telarc Distribution 82012
    1993 CPO 999017
    Kontrapunkt 32057
    Bongiovanni 5509
    EMI Music Distribution 49996
    Erato 45478