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Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival
A victim of his own success, Ferruccio Busoni was a pianist of such volcanic virtuosity that his considerable contributions as a composer were often overshadowed by his pianistic gifts. In recent decades a critical and scholarly reappraisal has brought many of his works back into the canon, including this electrifying Fantasia contrappuntistica, one of the greatest 19th-century homages to counterpoint and to its most celebrated proponent, J.S. Bach, for whom Busoni had the utmost reverence.
Inspired by Bach’s unfinished masterpiece Die Kunst der Fuge and sometimes compared to Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata for its stature, difficulty, and intellectual heft, Busoni’s Fantasia is pristinely presented here in the four lightning-quick hands of two of today’s most renowned pianists, Kirill Gerstein and Sir András Schiff. The two luminaries bring out every voice and nuance in this diabolical, five-voice counterpoint, including a Fugue that nods directly to Bach with its B-A-C-H theme (B♭-A-C-B♮ in German notation).