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Work

Ferruccio Busoni

Ferruccio Busoni Composer

Kleine Suite, for cello and piano, Op.23, KiV 215   

Performances: 3
Tracks: 15
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Musicology:
  • Kleine Suite, for cello and piano, Op.23, KiV 215
    Year: 1885
    Genre: Suite / Partita
    Pr. Instrument: Cello
    • 1.Moderato ma energico
    • 2.Andantino, con grazia
    • 3.Altes Tanzliedchen: Mässig, doch frisch
    • 4.Sostenuto ed espressivo
    • 5.Moderato ma con brio
In 1886, at the age of 20, Busoni escaped the family orbit, moving to Leipzig to support himself as a pianist and teacher as he pursued his true vocation—composition. His earliest preserved manuscripts date from his seventh year. By the time of his arrival in Leipzig he had composed well over 200 works, many of them published—often handsomely—and some of startling ambition, for instance, the cantata, or poema campestre, Il Sabato del Villaggio for soloists, chorus, and orchestra from 1882, an imposing Symphonic Suite in five moments the following year, or his first string quartet and the monumental Variations and Fugue in Free Form on Chopin's C minor Prelude for piano in 1884, which tower above a steady spate of songs and piano pieces. While publication may well have been a function of public interest in the child prodigy, Busoni was producing solid work—at the end of his life he thought well enough of the Variations and Fugue to recompose them in his deft old-masterly style as the 10 Variations on a Prelude of Chopin (1922), one of his most engaging works. No doubt he wrote too much too quickly, but composition came fluently thanks to his study of Bach almost from his cradle and a remarkably thorough musical education at the hands of Wilhelm Mayer during a sojourn in Graz around 1880—a two-year course that Ferruccio mastered in 15 months. Weingartner and Reznicek were also Mayer pupils. The 14-year-old Busoni was far better trained than most conservatory graduates, spurred by a preternatural facility usually associated with genius. Busoni's gifts were often compared, not unjustly, to Mozart's. At the age of seven he made his first public appearance playing works by Mozart; at nine he was performing Mozart's C minor concerto; at 15 the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna awarded him honors in piano and composition which had been given only once before—to Mozart. In the upshot, the uneasy transition from child prodigy to young master was accomplished with relative grace, reflected in the Kleine Suite for Cello and Piano, composed in1886. A pseudo-Baroque first movement recalls the contrapuntal textures of many early compositions. The second, a winsomely charming lullaby, is lifted from the realm of the salon by a musing trio. "An Altes Tanzliedchen" treads lightly with ingratiating lilt. The fourth movement's long-breathed cello melody becomes a soliloquy of gentle melancholy that the more energetic finale attempts, unsuccessfully, to exorcize.

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