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Kirill Gerstein’s recording of the mighty Busoni Concerto (‘superhuman’ is Brendel’s word) was made live at Boston Symphony Hall in March 2017. Listeners will either love its expansive, all-embracing manner, immense timeframe and male choral finale, or find it preposterous and overblown. Choral piano concertos are as rare as hen’s teeth: aside from Beethoven’s curious Op 80 Fantasy, I can think of only Alan Bush’s and a couple by the Finn Mikko Heiniö. Busoni’s is the best.

The sprawling score gets a virtuosic and gripping account from Gerstein, Oramo and the Bostonians. Gerstein manifestly has the measure of the solo part and his partnership with Oramo and the orchestra is palpable throughout. In a superbly clear recording, Oramo and the engineers bring out all the subtle touches and nuances of Busoni’s excellent orchestration. Conductor and soloist shape the transitions and structure perfectly. The bar was set pretty high in this work by John Ogdon (HMV) and latterly by Peter Donohoe (live at the Proms for EMI) and Marc-André Hamelin. This newcomer may not displace them, but will sit nicely on fans’ shelves, nonetheless.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Piano International, 2019 - ©Rhinegold Publishing