Jed Distler Tuesday, October 30, Jed Distler surveys a vast discography and discovers — and rediscovers — some remarkable interpretations. Many of his finest string compositions date from this time, including the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.
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There are few compositions that I consider transcendental in scope, by which I mean works that grow from a single, seminal theme or concept and expound on this concept, quasi-hypnotically, uninterrupted until all that can ever be said has been said. It is a journey at the end of which I know I will never be the same again. The whole of Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony is one such work, the Adagio from Bruckner's eighth symphony another. In the case of the Bach-Busoni Chaconne, I had decided to take a unique approach.
Interspersed among the performances of the piano transcription were several performances of the original version for violin as well as versions for harpsichord and for guitar. I though it might be beneficial in evaluating an interpretation of a transcription to determine the performer's understanding of the original version as well as the transcription and the music itself.
It was my hope that in being reminded regularly of the sound of the original version and transcriptions for other instruments, the ear will constantly be refreshed, the music will begin to exist in its pure abstract form, and understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the interpretations of the transcription will increase. I must confess, however, that part of my original motivation was the dearth of available performances of this great work.
In the four and a half years since first creating this page, many more performances of the Bach-Busoni Chaconne have become available to me.
There is now a more than sufficient number of these to permit an insightful comparison of interpretations which is the ultimate intent of these pages. I have therefore removed the recordings that are not definitionally germane to the subject of this page.
First, let us examine a performance by the master himself whose playing of the Chaconne incorporates numerous aspects of the technical capabilities of the violin. We will follow these performances, unless we are so transported by them as not to want to continue, with others formidable performances. The order in which they are presented has no significance as to my views on the quality of the individual performances, all of which I believe to have much to offer. However, I have found three more Michelangeli recordings and one by Lazar Berman with which to replace them.
Giltburg's is superlatively played. His use of the pedal is exemplary and in no way obscures the contrapuntal aspect of this music.
Stern, on the other hand, seems to forget that this is essentially Bach. Her heavy-footed use of the pedal makes many critical passages sound muddy. Focus on the octave passages in the left hand starting at in the Giltburg recording and at in the Stern.
Not only are Giltburg's octaves cleanly and delicately played, but the perfect arch of crescendo and diminuendo over the entire passage is a stunning example of interpretive control. Of all of the following performances, the one I find most appealing, possibly because it offers us the essence of the contrapuntal Bach in equal measure and perfect harmony with the passionately romantic Busoni, is the performance by the great Italian pianist, Maria Tipo.
For those of you who enjoy murder mysteries, here is my first with a strong musical polemic as background. Murder in the House of the Muse. And this is the more recently published second mystery in the series:. Murder Follows the Muse.
Copyright - forte-piano-pianissimo.
The Bach-Busoni Editions are a series of publications by the Italian pianist - composer Ferruccio Busoni — containing primarily piano transcriptions of keyboard music by Johann Sebastian Bach. They also include performance suggestions, practice exercises, musical analysis, an essay on the art of transcribing Bach's organ music for piano, an analysis of the fugue from Beethoven's 'Hammerklavier' sonata, and other related material. The later editions also include free adaptations and original compositions by Busoni which are based on the music of Bach. Busoni issued his Bach editions over a nearly year span in two collections: the volume Busoni Ausgabe  Joh. Bach Klavierwerke and the Bach-Busoni Collected Edition Bach-Busoni Gesammelte Ausgabe , which was first issued in 6 volumes in , and subsequently in 7 volumes in In Busoni began learning to play the piano while the family was living in Paris , shortly before his fourth birthday.
The Gramophone Collection: Busoni’s transcription of Bach’s Chaconne