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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Ferruccio Busoni Is The Last Renaissance Man

By Norman Lebrecht on March 1, 2019

Ferruccio Busoni: Piano Concerto (Myrios)
An inspirational figure in the musical life of Sibelius, Varèse, Schoenberg, Mahler, and Weill, Ferruccio Busoni is rediscovered in a new album with the Boston Symphony and Kirill Gerstein.

Ferruccio Busoni: Piano Concerto (Myrios)

★★★★☆
🎧 Spotify | iTunes Amazon

Busoni is a great baffler. One of the most interesting musical minds of his time — the only pianist that Mahler considered an intellectual equal — his music so often falls short of his written ideas that one is tempted to dismiss both as inconsequential. Yet there is always something in Busoni that draws you back, just in case you missed the point first time round.

The piano concerto, premiered by the composer in 1904, is a case in point. It sounds for the most part like an overlong symphony — 72 minutes, for heaven’s sake — in which the pianist acts as a kind of sports commentator, interjecting sage locutions amid the action. I’m tempted to put on a performance without the piano to see if the substance stacks up.

The main chunk is the 23-minute middle movement, marked ‘pezzo serioso’ and managing to be both thought-provoking and emotionally engaging. Kirill Gerstein give it all he has got, which is quite a lot. Less thunderous than John Ogdon, more lyrical than Garrick Ohlssohn, he conveys a sense of a great mind in a time of change searching for a middle road between overblown romanticism and dry modernism – but still ending up losing sight of the end of the road.

The Boston Symphony play wonderfully for Sakari Oramo and the men of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus will blow your ears off in the reactionary finale. Of the half-dozen recordings that I know of this work, this is by far the best-sounding.

LUDWIG VAN TORONTO

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Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.
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Ludwig Van Toronto

SCRUTINY | Kerem Hasan Makes His Toronto Symphony Debut With An Eroica For Our Times

By Stephan Bonfield on April 11, 2019

UK conductor Kerem Hasan makes his short notice Canadian debut at the TSO with Beethoven's epic pathbreaking Symphony No. 3 “Eroica”.
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SCRUTINY | Against The Grain's Kopernikus Strong In Music, But Weak On Staging

By Paula Citron on April 6, 2019

If ever there was a production where the stage picture bears no relation to the libretto, it is this. The musical forces, however, are outstanding.
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THE SCOOP | British Conductor To Replace Louis Langrée For Canadian Debut With The Toronto Symphony

By Michael Vincent on April 8, 2019

Twenty-seven-year-old UK conductor Kerem Hasan has replaced Louis Langrée in upcoming concerts with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
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