“Concertgoers who braved the elements on two chilly evenings in Cleveland earlier this month were rewarded with an extraordinary rarity: a performance of Ferruccio Busoni’s remarkable Piano Concerto from 1904,” writes Michael Thaddeus in Sunday’s (2/24) New York Review of Books. “It demands nearly superhuman stamina and virtuosity of its soloist, who plays almost continuously throughout and whose part is fiendishly difficult…. Busoni’s concerto is composed of five vast movements, like three majestic lakes linked by two rushing rivers. None of them fits into any of the standard forms…. At Severance Hall in Cleveland, the concerto was performed by Garrick Ohlsson and the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Alan Gilbert. [Ohlsson’s] performance was a marvel of virtuosity, and he played with Olympian serenity and equanimity, dispatching the most strenuous passages with apparent ease…. Gilbert drew a spirited performance from the orchestra, communicating the grandeur of Busoni’s vision with sweep and drive…. One senses that the impetus for these performances may have come … than from the musicians themselves, to whom a monumental work like the Busoni concerto presents an exhilarating challenge. Yet the Cleveland audience was raptly attentive and cheered the musicians to the echo.”

Posted February 28, 2019