A mammoth, a sleeping Titan of the concerto repertoire…Busoni’s piano concerto is a rarely performed work that is strenuous for the pianist, the orchestra, and the audience all at once. At an hour and 15 minutes in length, it acts like a sinfonia-concertante, where the piano and orchestra are equally utilized. Actually, while the piano does have important structural aspects to it, the pianist overall is constantly struggling to play over the booming orchestra, to the point where the virtuosity goes unnoticed in comparison. That’s probably a major reason why we rarely see it in concert: it’s a beast to play, but the difficulty isn’t easily highlighted so it’s hard to “show off” to the audience. Written at the beginning of the century, the work isn’t like the shadowy and bleak works of his more mature years, rather it is an over-the-top unapologetic love letter to the grandiose decadence of late 19th century piano concertos. Here it might be adequate to say “Too many notes”. In fact, Alfred Brendel even said this work was “monstrously overwritten”. So why does it have a niche cult following? Why is it still being picked up [a mild resurgence in recent years I’ve noticed]? Despite the pianistic writing at times, the work is well balanced. It follows the structure as seen in the drawing that Busoni had conceptualized here in the video: a grand solemn temple in the middle, two busy vibrant gardens on either side, and then two polished ornate temples bookending the row. In following this structure, we start with a grand movement, opening as if in media res, with a Brahms like theme paired with Lisztian pyrotechnics and Beethoven drama. The next movement is a rushing scherzo that is somehow both heavy and rapid, defying physics it seems. The third movement is a large scale meditation of an operatic theme that is excruciatingly Teutonic with its modulating build up. The following movement is a heart racing tarantella, taking Italian street songs a la Rossini and making them as frantic and animalistic as possible, a build up that makes me think of wild animals stampeding out of a zoo and causing all kinds of havoc. After the insane cadenza and obligatory brass fanfare, we settle down a bit with a choral setting [yes, I forgot to mention this concerto has a choral finale] of a hymn to Allah from an early 19th century play by Adam Oehlenschläger, Aladdin.] The work ends in a stately coda. The constant use of climaxes, the blazing orchestra, the hyperactive pianist, it all comes together as an almost postmodernist parody of the Romantic piano concerto. I like to think of it as the story of a Liszt or Thalberg type showman pianist trying to show off to the audience fighting the conductor/composer who doesn’t have the work written with him in mind. I know I’ve probably been making fun of this work more than praising it, so here is the praise: it brings to mind the wonder of sitting in an audience watching a concert live, being awestruck and marveling at the abilities of the musicians creating magic out of sound before our eyes, both physical and mental achievements. This is a space of magic, of dreams, of adventure and exploration, of naivety that we wish we could return to.
1. Prologo e Introito: Allegro, dolce e solenne
2. Pezzo giocoso
3. Pezzo serioso
4. All'Italiana: Tarantella: Vivace; In un tempo
5. Cantico: Largamente, “Die Felsensäulen fangen an tief und leise zu ertönen” [”Deep and quiet, the pillars of rock begin to sound"]
Skrillex - Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites [STUDIO PIANO COVER]
|Ferrucio ‘ferro’ Montanino - Scary monsters and nice sprites (skillrex piano cover)|
This song was introduced to me by one of my best friends. She got it from one of her old best friends. I remember hearing the original dubstep version. I really don’t like dubstep. It sucks but this guy, “Ferro” made it into something very, very beautiful. I really like this cover and i don’t think I’ll ever get sick of it. I really gotta give kudos to Ferro because he is a musical genius. It really is worth listen.