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Don O’Connor
American Record Guide, November 2012

The solo works for flute and for clarinet are both more like musical dialogs between the performer and accompaniment than conventional concertinos. The soloists contribute their commentary to the orchestra’s parts. Both works exploit the full ranges of the instruments and when as well played as they are here, are enjoyable pieces to savor.

The performances are expansive, with strong conducting. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

Frédéric Cardin
La Scena Musicale, November 2012

The generous amount of works on this record occasionally attests to [Ferruccio Busoni’s] signature sound, but will likely surprise the musical connoisseur with its light, vivacious sound, differing from what would normally be expected from a program dedicated to the Italian composer deceased in 1924. The Comedy Overture…is very Mozartian, the Tanzwalzer, almost Danubian, and the Rondo arlecchinesco, modernist with a hint of mischief. The typically more dense and serious Busconi is easily recognized in the Gesang vom Reigen der Geister…The Clarinet Concertino is highly suggestive, occasionally expanding the tonal framework but remaining anchored in a very pictorial conceptualization, making for a pleasant discovery. The Divertimento for Flute exhibits similar characteristics, its style ranging from late romanticism to melancholic modernism. An excellent record. © 2012 La Scena Musicale Read complete review

John Sheppard
MusicWeb International, October 2012

Busoni was not only a great composer and pianist but also a musical philosopher whose work extends beyond the realms of pure music. The Fantasia Contrappuntistica, the Piano Concerto and above all Doktor Faust are prime examples of this. One important aspect of this was his advocacy of a form of neo-classicism, in particular derived from the music of Mozart and Bach, and it is this aspect that is the main part of this disc.

It starts with what is usually known in Anglo-Saxon circles as the Comedy Overture, a neat, crisp work which goes well beyond what have become the clichés of the many “light, bright, Overtures” written since that time. It is a delightful piece surprisingly rarely encountered in the concert hall. The Divertimento is a particular joy to hear. In effect it is a Concertino in three sections, the first and last based on a clear-cut motif of very classical character but whose treatment is very individual. The slower middle section is even more so, with a haunting quintessential Busoni theme. All of this in less than ten minutes of pure pleasure.

The Clarinet Concertino and Rondo Arlecchinesco are similar in their ingenious use of classical features in a very individual context.

All of these are essential works in the collections of any admirer of the composer, and it is good to have them brought together here in modern recordings. The performances are generally satisfactory…The recording is clear and full…There are good notes by Richard Whitehouse. All in all this is a useful collection of short pieces which are too easily ignored when contemplating Busoni’s larger masterpieces. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Guy Rickards
Gramophone, October 2012

Giammarco Casani and Laura Minguzzi respectively execute their parts superbly and as well as any of their many rivals over the years.

The Rome Symphony Orchestra, which celebrates its 10th birthday this year, performs superbly and La Vecchia demonstrates a sure touch with the sometimes elliptical courses of Busoni’s invention. Excellent sound and budget price make this a highly recommendable disc. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Daniel Foley
The WholeNote, September 2012

The Italian maestro Francesco da Vecchia…continues his championing of the music of Ferruccio Busoni…with a generous sampling of shorter orchestral works by this sorely underrated composer whose inimitable compositions have long been overshadowed by his towering reputation as a legendary performer. The centrepieces of the present disc are two single movement wind concertos. Giammarco Casani is the exceedingly suave soloist in the Clarinet Concertino while Laura Minguzzi provides an appropriately sprightly interpretation of the mercurial Divertimento for flute and small orchestra.

An additional quartet of purely orchestral works presents a broad chronological overview of Busoni’s stylistic development, commencing with the bustling neo-classical Comedy Overture…the moody, otherworldly Song of the Spirit Dance with its striking aboriginal references…followed by the sardonic Rondò arlecchinesco…and concluding with Busoni’s last orchestral work, the Viennese-accented Tanzwalzer… © 2012 The WholeNote Read complete review

Brian Reinhart
MusicWeb International, September 2012

This is the lighter, wittier side of Busoni, and it is a truly delightful CD.

…all immensely attractive music, running from an overture that deserves to be a pops and radio megahit through a truly nonsensical rondo to two wonderful mini-concertos. Nothing here is very serious at heart, but it’s all astonishingly well-done. Aside from Martucci’s Tarantella and a few bits of Casella, this is my favorite discovery so far in Naxos’ Italian Classics series; the woodwind soloists are closely spotlit and the sound is a bit crude but suits the music’s vivaciousness. The Rome Symphony and Francesco La Vecchia give high-spirited performances which are very confident indeed…In summary: wonderful. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor, August 2012

Rondo arlecchinesco, Op. 46…[is] relatively light and amusing, a martial procession of instruments featuring a heap of mock heroics. La Vecchia has fun with it, as does tenor Granluca Terranova at the end.

Then comes the centerpiece of the album, the Clarinet Concertino in B flat major, Op. 48 (1918). Like the “Spirit Dance” it’s scored for chamber forces, and it does sound Mozartian in its way, with clarinetist Giammarco Casini making a delightful soloist.

After that is the Divertimento for flute and small orchestra, Op. 52 (1920). Under conductor La Vecchia and with flautist Laura Minguzzi, the piece sounds more varied and mercurial than the preceding clarinet work. There are, indeed, passages of lively wit and others of exquisite beauty. It is among the best things on the program.

Finally, the album concludes with Busoni’s Tanzwalzer, Op. 53…it’s an agreeable piece, and La Vecchia does his best with it.

…a fascinating journey it is, reminding us that some of Busoni’s students and followers were Percy Grainger, Kurt Weill, Edgard Varese, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Dimitri Tiomkin, Rudolf Ganz, Philipp Jarnach, and many others.

The sound displays a healthy dynamic range and impact, a fairly natural if slightly thick midrange, and reasonably good bass and treble extensions. Overall, the sonics are warm and smooth, with a light, pleasant hall ambience that makes it easy on the ear. © 2012 Classical Candor Read complete review, July 2012

…listeners who want to explore Busoni’s worldview, and the music he created within it, will find the new Naxos CD by Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma under Francesco La Vecchia to be a variegated and well-played sampling. Busoni seems to try on different musical personalities in these six works. The earliest, Eine Lustspielouvertüre (“Comedy Overture”), dates to 1897 and has more lightness and instrumental clarity than do many of Busoni’s later works. Gesang vom Reigen der Geister (“Song of the Spirit Dance”), from 1915, is delicate, harmonically forward-looking and redolent of traces of mysticism. Rondò arlecchinesco, also from 1915, is much more straightforward and humorous in a witty rather than broad way, and has unusual scoring that features a vocalise for tenor. The Clarinet Concertino (1918) is carefully organized and adheres fairly closely to classical forms, while the Divertimento for flute and small orchestra (1920) takes formal constraints much less seriously and is, indeed, diverting. So is Tanzwalzer, which also dates to 1920 but which has the flavor of a throwback to the Vienna of the Strauss family—it is actually dedicated to the memory of Johann Strauss Jr., although Busoni’s tunefulness is clearly filtered through a very different sensibility. © Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2012

Ferruccio Busoni’s worldwide reputation as one of the great virtuosos of the keyboard almost eclipsed his work as a highly gifted composer. A musical magpie who was most effective when borrowing ideas from others, he was Italian only by virtue of birth, his parents being German, and it was in Germany he was musically educated, and it was where he spent most his life. He was stylistically confused, looking, on the one hand, to the future, though his musical inclinations were in the era of Bach and Mozart. As we hear in Gesang vom Reigen der Geister (Song of the Spirit Dance), he enjoyed a flirtation with modern and difficult harmonies, while he also wanted to please those with a passing interest in classical music. That surfaces in Tanzwalzer, a score ‘dedicated to Johann Strauss II’, though the content rather belongs to the ‘Strauss of the North’, Hans Christian Lumbye. Apart from the sparkling and lightweight Lustspielouverture, composed in 1897, the remainder of the release spans the years 1915 to 1920, placing them in the later part of his relatively short life. To get a taste of the disc, turn to the Rondo arlecchinesco, a preparative study for his one act opera Arlecchino, its style of wit and sardonic humour later taken up by Stravinsky. The two works for clarinet and flute are in the mood of early 20th century tonality, and are here played by excellent principals from the Rome orchestra. They are placed too close to their microphones to recreate a concert hall perspective, but otherwise Busoni is very well served by all concerned, and I most strongly commend you to music that deserves to be better known. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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