Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39

Posted by: Orange Soda King

Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/26/10 07:18 AM

I just got finished listening to this work (John Ogdon was the pianist), and I don't know if it was just because the work is so big and grand or if it is truly great music (which I think it is a little of both), but it was just amazing and beautiful! Even though it is very long, I would still love to hear it played live.

When I get a chance, I'm going to listen to M.A. Hamelin's videos of it on Youtube, and then maybe find his studio recording (although I may stick with John Ogdon's recording, just to have a little variety... they both are probably top notch, and I have a lot of Hamelin on my iPod as it is, and no Ogdon yet).

Does anyone else here (preferably those who have listened to it all the way through a few times and are at least somewhat familiar with it) have any opinions on this piece?
Posted by: Hank Drake

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/26/10 09:35 AM

Ogdon's performance of the Concerto is good, but Ohlsson's is the one to get, IMO:

http://www.amazon.com/review/R3BVXO2G1LYRUW/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm
Posted by: Janus K. Sachs

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/26/10 10:00 AM

It's a very good piece, but I prefer Busoni's later works.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/26/10 12:00 PM

My favourite piano concerto written between the Liszt Eb and Prokofiev 3. I have six recordings of it, including a live performance with Noel Mewton-Wood.

I still think Ogdon unsurpassed, and if you're going to have only one recording, then Odgon is the one. Ohlsson is very fine, but doesn't quite scale the heights of the Ogdon. When I hear the Ohlsson recording, there are always moments when I think Odgon is just a tad better.

Hamelin's I've never warmed to. Not really sure why -he certainly gets through the torrents of notes- but something intangible seems to be missing. Also, Hyperion's sound is not up to their usual standards.
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/26/10 04:52 PM

I have the recording of Peter Donohoe, amazing, it's live and well performed, the piece ia a cross between Brahms 1+2/Liszt 1+2/Mahler 2+8/what have you, it has its beauties, its longeurs, its amazing virtuosity, its moments of madness,well, just crazy and not unbeautiful music, that Danish text sung by a male choir though, well, brrr.
Posted by: hophmi

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/26/10 05:04 PM

It's not my favorite piece. The couple of times I've listened to it, I've felt that it was not worth investing 75 minutes in.
Posted by: jeffreyjones

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/26/10 05:24 PM

I truly haven't found anything by Busoni I liked. How is it that the same country that produced Verdi, Rossini, Bellini also produced the most astringent and dry composers for the piano - Sgambati, Martucci, Busoni, Dallapiccola? That's not to say they're bad composers, but there is a pretty dramatic difference. Liszt's "Italia" book from the Years of Pilgrimage has more passion than any of them put together.
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/26/10 05:50 PM

and all other italianate pieces by not-italians, Barcarolle by Chopin is the King, Tarantella the knight, Saltarelle by Alkan, not a bad thing, Napoli by Poulenc, to be played!, what have you, no italians...
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/26/10 09:33 PM

I kind of see both viewpoints, actually. I see how some could love it, and I see how some could think that it's about 40 minutes too long. I still think either way the music is beautiful; the only thing that could turn me off is the sheer length.

But I like macroworks like that, and would LOVE to hear it live, along with other very large works.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/26/10 10:28 PM

Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King

But I like macroworks like that, and would LOVE to hear it live, along with other very large works.

Busoni's Concerto is written on a HUGE time scale. His melodic material is very long to begin with, and requires time for proper development and expansion. If you analyze the piece, it is very concise, there is not one bloody wasted note.

The mature Wagner operas are, in a sense 'too long', but there is simply no way they can ever be cut. Perhaps in these days of instant communication, the blood runs too fast, we only require 'bites' (then off to the next 'bite'), and Bach at 2 hours and 10 minutes writes a Mass in B minor. Bruckner symphonies seem self-indulgently long to generations weened on the instant gratification of American pop culture.

Percy Whitlock's organ sonata is, IMO, a very great piece of music. But it's seldom programmed. Just too long for any organ concert, yet it cannot be cut (usually only the scherzo is performed) and it ends up in the rubbish because few people have the attention span required.

The Busoni is truly the 'landscape of a precious soul', and its central movement the most expansively precious of all. Time almost stands still, as in the first act of Wagner's Parsifal.

If you want a piano concerto to be over and done with, then do the Liszt Eb (a work I adore anyway), but this is not what the Busoni is about.
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/27/10 06:04 PM

Wagner's 'opera's' as you call them, and he didn't, well, always, aren't too long at all, methinks, and as Bruckner so well said about his symphonies: 'Meine Symfonien sind nicht zu lange, sie sind zu kurz!', and he was right, every 'improvement' by wiseguys, made them, well, shorter in time maybe, but harder to disgust, so: longer in effect.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/27/10 06:28 PM

I think Busoni's best work was Kurt Weill.
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/27/10 06:35 PM

And Jean Sibelius, and his Chopinvariations, op.22, and his Doktor Faustus, and his sonatina: 'Kammerfantasie super Carmen' and his Fantasia Contrapuntistica and his Chaconne-arrangement, actually, that's his best,I believe.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/27/10 07:27 PM

Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
Wagner's 'opera's' as you call them, and he didn't, well, always, aren't too long at all, methinks...

Sorry, this is too opaque. You'll need to clarify, mate...
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/27/10 07:34 PM

Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
And Jean Sibelius, and his Chopinvariations, op.22, and his Doktor Faustus, and his sonatina: 'Kammerfantasie super Carmen' and his Fantasia Contrapuntistica and his Chaconne-arrangement, actually, that's his best,I believe.

To which I would add the 2nd Violin Sonata and the Toccata.

Guilty pleasure: the Indian Fantasy. smokin

Of the handful of operas I would love to see someday ('Death in Venice', 'Palestrina' for example), 'Doktor Faust' is at the top of the list.
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/27/10 07:42 PM

Richard the Ist' works are by many considered long, tedious and too germanic. Which they're not. They are complete (master)works on their own terms, if one has a problem whith length, or theatrical productions, or can't stand loud music, even the cinema would be off bounds, W's works are to me the pinnacle of Romantic imagination, textwise, musically overthrowingly to the point, dramatically unsurpassed, and totally convincing. Poor Anton has always had a mixed reception, but I think his symphonic work is an 'absolute' answer to the histrionics of Richard, maybe he's was too unstable a person to set his foot in the ground firmly, so to speak, but he'll endure, I sincerely hope, and I should like to place his 9 or so symphonies next to Brahms's 4, nay, some above them: 5/6/7/8/9, my god, what beauty and depth, very long and good, too short for my taste!
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/27/10 07:44 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
And Jean Sibelius, and his Chopinvariations, op.22, and his Doktor Faustus, and his sonatina: 'Kammerfantasie super Carmen' and his Fantasia Contrapuntistica and his Chaconne-arrangement, actually, that's his best,I believe.

To which I would add the 2nd Violin Sonata and the Toccata.
the toccata is a big one, though very difficult and not so 'publikumsfreundlich'

Guilty pleasure: the Indian Fantasy. smokin

Of the handful of operas I would love to see someday ('Death in Venice', 'Palestrina' for example), 'Doktor Faust' is at the top of the list.
Posted by: Goldberg

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/27/10 09:48 PM

Good to see some support for Busoni! I happen to love the concerto, and can't say that I really have a preference for a recording, except possibly the live Hamelin bootleg I have (can't remember the date/venue off the top of my head, but it's not like even he plays it every day). Ogdon's recording is astounding like all of his recordings are, though I'm glad Ohlsson has been mentioned. At first I was kind of surprised to hear about such a subtle, nuanced "Chopin player" (clearly he excels elsewhere too...) tackling this behemoth--the longest, grandest of all piano concerti to paraphrase Ogdon. Actually, I don't think I should have been surprised because, as mentioned in someone's post, amidst the mountains of notes, not one gesture is wasted, and the piece is incredibly well composed and concise. There is absolutely no display for virtuosity's own sake (and as an aside, the piano part fits under the hands far better than you might expect), and a keen look at the score reveals how detailed everything is, and how it is all aimed at a musical intention.

Unfortunately, a lot of his music comes across as being dry and intellectual, but I find that on repeated listenings, I frequently begin to feel the incredible genius and imagination that are present in his best pieces. The Sonatinas are all worthwhile, as are the Elegies. In fact, I have the complete piano music recorded by Geoffrey Douglas Madge, and I have yet to find something that completely turns me off.

By the way, anyone who's into Busoni should definitely look into Ronald Stevenson, who is kind of Busoni's musical heir in a way. He has two magnificent piano concerti of his own (The Continents is amazing), and a large output of solo music that is virtually unknown to most pianists, apart from the groundbreaking Passacaglia on DSCH. But, if you're particularly into Busoni, try to track down Stevenson's Prelude, Fugue, and Fantasy on Busoni's "Faust." It's also worth mentioning that Sorabji had a close friendship with Busoni in the latter's last years (the 1st Sonata was dedicated to Busoni, and the Opus Clavicembalisticum is very much in a hyper-Busonian vein, you could say).
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/28/10 06:41 PM

Good to hear someone mention G.D.Madge, a Busoni/Medtner/Sorabji et al. champion long before M.A.H. et al. and one of my teachers.....
Posted by: Goldberg

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/28/10 07:40 PM

Madge has been a lifelong inspiration to me (in terms of recordings, etc.; never met him--nor had the incredible pleasure of taking lessons from him!). It's astonishing to me how such a genius can be overlooked so often, kind of like Carlo Grante. Too bad there isn't--to my knowledge anyway--a recording of the Busoni concerto with Madge. Please tell me I'm wrong!
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/28/10 07:49 PM

Soooooo sorry, I heard him play it, even turned pages during practise, no recording, only private, his Op.Clav. should be there, as should his Busoni (Philips), he won't do the Kaikoshuro ever again though, can well imagine, crazy man and music, did you know that G.D.M. was the first to record all the Godowsky/Chopin violations?
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/28/10 09:53 PM

You knew Madge?!?!?!? That's so cool!!!!!

I would have LOVED to have known Madge. And John Ogdon, for that matter.

Heck, I wish I knew ALL these guys, performers of nonstandard repertoire and standard repertoire (and ladies too, Martha Argerich).
Posted by: Goldberg

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/28/10 10:03 PM

Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
Soooooo sorry, I heard him play it, even turned pages during practise, no recording, only private, his Op.Clav. should be there, as should his Busoni (Philips), he won't do the Kaikoshuro ever again though, can well imagine, crazy man and music, did you know that G.D.M. was the first to record all the Godowsky/Chopin violations?


Wow! Must have been amazing. Yes, I know about his Godowsky recordings. It's funny to me how some people think Hamelin is the only one who can play Chopin-Godowsky! Sure, his performances (especially the live ones) are incredible, but just to name a few more, there's also Grante, Libetta, Hobson, and of course Bolet (who has ownership over all the Chopin-Godowsky transcriptions he recorded, in my mind; though sadly that isn't a lot). If I'm ever in a Chopin-Godowsky mood, I find myself switching to Grante for "that" etude, Hamelin for this one, Madge for another...

To get back on subject, I'll simply say that Roland Pontinen is a fabulous Busoni interpreter too; and also, Brendel has a stunning recording of the Toccata. And don't miss out on Paul Jacobs!
Posted by: wr

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/28/10 10:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King

I would have LOVED to have known Madge. And John Ogdon, for that matter.



You still can get to know Madge. Here's his email: madge (at) xs4all.nl

I once cooked dinner for John Ogdon - I fear it wasn't enough food, even though he didn't complain.
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 05/28/10 10:27 PM

There's a man named David Saperton who made some good Chopin-Godowsky recordings. Boris Berezovsky is pretty good with Chopin-Godowsky, too. I also have heard some of Hobson's and Bolet's recordings.

Back to the original post, I just bought Ogdon's recording of the concerto! Best $6 I've spent in a while! And I listened to Ohlsson's recording; it's great, too. I also listened to Hamelin's live performance on Youtube... it is wonderful as well, but I just wanted to go with Ogdon because I want to have a greater variety on my iPod. Who knows... I may come back to Ohlsson later; I just don't have any Ogdon yet, and this made a GREAT start with him.

EDIT: (Because of another forum I've circulated for years that frowns HIGHLY on double posting, I just can't do it...) I've read up more on Madge, and I REALLY hope people don't think he's not a good pianist because of his O.C. recording not being on par with Ogdon's, or the review someone said about Madge's recordings in a description of Hamelin's... He's a terrific pianist and a brilliant man. Here's a website giving more info about Madge: http://www.xs4all.nl/~madge/
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 09/19/10 08:47 PM

BUMP: My friend found this recording of the Busoni Piano Concerto and burned it onto CD for me! Kun-Woo Paik, who is apparently already an established concert pianist with a nice career already under his belt, has a recording of it! I don't know the orchestra, conductor, choir, or date of recording yet...

Thanks to the upgrade to 15 minutes instead of 10, I don't have to upload it in NINE parts... LOL!



The other parts should be in related videos. If not, look on my channel.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 09/19/10 09:59 PM

OMG, it ended just when I was approaching ecstasy.

Nuts! This is truly the landscape of a precious soul, only Elgar's Gerontius (in my experience) come close to Busoni.
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 09/19/10 10:22 PM

Sorry, it's 15:30 long, but YouTube rejected me trying to go just 30 seconds over the limit... So I had to squeeze the ending of the first movement with the second movement on the second video. Likewise, I had to split the third movement up. But the second, fourth, and fifth movements are all in one piece. smile
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Busoni's Piano Concerto in C Major Op. 39 - 09/19/10 11:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Sorry, it's 15:30 long, but YouTube rejected me trying to go just 30 seconds over the limit... So I had to squeeze the ending of the first movement with the second movement on the second video.

Well okay, but it was very upsetting for Busoni's magnificent 1st movement to suddenly die on me, just when Busoni was summing up the landscape, and preparing us for the next movements.

I went through this twice. I am going out for supper, and I have to be up early tomorrow.