Hyperion Records

Elegies, BV249
Nos 1-6: 1907; No 7: 1909

'Busoni: Late Piano Music' (CDA67951/3)
Busoni: Late Piano Music
MP3 £15.00FLAC £15.00ALAC £15.00Buy by post £19.50 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 96 kHz £22.50ALAC 24-bit 96 kHz £22.50 CDA67951/3  3CDs Best of 2014   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
No 1: Nach der Wendung (Recueillement)
Track 1 on CDA67951/3 CD1 [4'15] 3CDs Best of 2014
No 2: All'Italia! (In modo napolitano)
Track 2 on CDA67951/3 CD1 [6'20] 3CDs Best of 2014
No 3: Meine Seele bangt und hofft zu Dir (Choralvorspiel)
Track 3 on CDA67951/3 CD1 [7'35] 3CDs Best of 2014
No 4: Turandots Frauengemach (Intermezzo)
Track 4 on CDA67951/3 CD1 [3'22] 3CDs Best of 2014
No 5: Die Nächtlichen (Walzer)
Track 5 on CDA67951/3 CD1 [3'05] 3CDs Best of 2014
No 6: Erscheinung (Notturno)
Track 6 on CDA67951/3 CD1 [5'02] 3CDs Best of 2014
No 7: Berceuse
Track 7 on CDA67951/3 CD1 [4'25] 3CDs Best of 2014

Elegies, BV249
The Elegies are a group of six pieces written in late 1907 (a seventh one was added in 1909). They are each dedicated to one of Busoni’s piano pupils, of whom three (Gottfried Galston, Egon Petri, Michael Zadora) would remain among the most devoted members of his entourage in the last years of his life. Appropriately enough for pieces that herald his entry into a new era of tonal organization, the first one is entitled Nach der Wendung (Recueillement). Shortly after reaching this ‘turning point’ in his compositional career, and having paused to meditate, Busoni wrote that he had finally found his real self. Yet the Elegies look as much to the past as to the future, and as such reflect the ambiguity that is part of his personality as a composer.

The second piece, All’Italia! (In modo napolitano), which uses material from the second and fourth movements of the Piano Concerto, begins with a striking juxtaposition of the major and minor versions of the same chords for the presentation of an elegiac Neapolitan song; its middle section is a brilliant tarantella. The third Elegy, which would find its definitive form as the opening Chorale Prelude of the Fantasia contrappuntistica, is based on the Lutheran chorale Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr. It bears the title Meine Seele bangt und hofft zu dir (‘My soul trembles and hopes of thee’), and several interpretative directions convey its oppressive atmosphere (ängstlich, mit unterdrückter Empfindung, ansioso).

The fourth and fifth Elegies use material from the Turandot Suite (1904–5), which Busoni wrote for Karl Vollmoeller’s adaptation of Carlo Gozzi’s play and later incorporated into the opera Turandot (1916–17). Turandots Frauengemach is a delicate ‘scherzando’ setting of the well-known melody Greensleeves framed by sections in a different tonality; it is sung on the syllable ‘la’ by women behind the curtain in the women’s quarters. The fleeting and veiled Die Nächtlichen (Walzer) freely adapts the suite’s seventh movement.

Erscheinung (Notturno) is taken from the opera Die Brautwahl (1906–11), on which Busoni was already working. This nocturne is heard when a vision of the heroine Albertine appears (hence the title) at the window of a clock-tower. Its highly original final page features chords in the left hand with swift scales in the right in a bitonal relationship. At the end Busoni provides a variant of the three opening bars of the first piece to round off the cycle when it is played complete. The pianist can also use the standard ending and continue with the Berceuse (1909), added in a later edition. This strange, misty piece in soft dynamics (with both pedals depressed throughout) begins with a theme in long note values in the middle register above a rocking pedal movement; it continues with a bitonal section whose harmonies are blended with the pedal and concludes with bell-like sonorities. In October 1909 Busoni prepared an extended version for chamber orchestra entitled Berceuse élégiaque as a tribute to his recently departed mother.

from notes by Marc-André Roberge © 2013

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Details for CDA67951/3 disc 1 track 5
Die Nächtlichen (Walzer)
Recording date
24 August 2012
Recording venue
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon
Hyperion usage
  1. Busoni: Late Piano Music (CDA67951/3)
    Disc 1 Track 5
    Release date: November 2013
    3CDs Best of 2014
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