One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati







alternatively AmazonUK

Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924)
Zwei Lieder (1879-90) [6:43]
Album Vocale (1880-4) [14:42]
Zwei altdeutsche Lieder (1884) [3:45]
Hebräische Lieder (1884) [7:47]
Zwei Lieder (1885) [6:34]
Der Sängers Fluch (1878) [17:34]
Goethe-Lieder (1918-1924) [10:19]
Reminiscenza Rossiniana (1924) [1:39]
Martin Bruns (baritone); Ulrich Eisenlohr (piano)
rec. Munich, September 2004. DDD
NAXOS 8.557245


In his time he was more famous as a performer and the only one of his compositions to have reached some level of general public awareness is his piano concerto. To judge Busoni’s skill as composer purely on that, though, would be similar to making a judgement about Beethoven based solely on the ninth symphony. Of course the two works have a chorus and outsized proportions in common, but as compositions they are hardly representative of their authors. So what, you could ask, is representative of Busoni the composer? Do his songs qualify in any way?
In all my years attending vocal recitals, I cannot recall ever having heard a song by Busoni. This recording, unfortunately, gives me a good reason why that could be the case. Put simply, they are, in the majority, juvenilia. That said, this selection of eighteen from over forty completed songs is enough to give one an idea of Busoni’s compositional diversity in the genre.
Whilst some of them show a little precociousness in handling text, the vocal line often remains in the shadows of the piano part when it comes to complexity and assurance. The early songs show the dominating influence of other composers as one might reasonably expect, and Brahms figures fairly highly on the list. Although the language changes to Italian on occasion, the idiom remains absolutely German in spirit.
It seems that in the end the pianist within Busoni always wins out. If his songs are not representative of the composer then, are we left with his virtuoso piano opera paraphrases as the only ‘true’ Busoni works?  Other Naxos releases suggest not, with violin and cello sonatas, the suites from his operas Turandot and Doktor Faust also available to explore. The operas, though, are better when heard in their full format. Of the piano works themselves, I would recommend the Fantasia Contrappuntistica as the most involved and involving, being in effect a lengthy meditation on Bach across a variety of means.
With passable but hardly world-beating performances this release is only for those fully intent on exploring a by-way of lieder repertoire. 
Evan Dickerson


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.