Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) led an exceptionally multifaceted musical life, from his origins as a child prodigy to a distinguished career as a formidable pianist, composer, teacher, writer, and even philosopher. He left an especially significant legacy behind with his masterful transcriptions, most famously of J.S. Bach’s music.
As the adage goes, everything old is new again. Transcriptions are simultaneously retrospective and forward-looking, as the transcriber takes a gem of the past and re-imagines it into an entity that resonates with the present. The art of transcription once flourished as an essential element of the pianist’s prowess, whether for purposes of modernization, virtuosic display, or as a conduit for large-scale ensemble works before the age of recording. As Busoni himself pronounced:
“Transcription occupies an important place in the literature of the piano; and looked at from a right point of view, every important piano piece is the reduction of a big thought to a practical instrument. But transcription has become an independent art; no matter whether the starting-point of a composition is original or unoriginal. Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, and Brahms were evidently all of the opinion that there is artistic value concealed in a pure transcription, for they all cultivated the art themselves, seriously and lovingly.”
The Duettino Concertante is a brilliant example of Busoni’s prowess as a transcriber. Based on the finale of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in F major, K. 459, this piece is full of effervescent virtuosity. Cascades of scintillating figurations are thrown back and forth between the two pianists in a seamless stream; such writing is a testament to Busoni’s pianistic facility. More importantly, Busoni’s writing underscores the mischief, vivacity, and joy that make Mozart’s music so irresistible. To us, the Duettino Concertante is the musical encapsulation of laughter and light, and it serves as a festive overture to any program.
— Greg Anderson & Elizabeth Joy Roe
INCLUDED ON THE ALBUM AN AMADEUS AFFAIR
based on the Finale of Mozart's Piano Concerto in F Major, K. 459
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
arranged for two pianos by Ferruccio Busoni
edited by Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe
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