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Classical - Released January 8, 2007 | Warner Classics

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Here is a CD reissue that collectors have sought for decades: John Ogdon's magnificent 1967 EMI Angel recording of Ferruccio Busoni's Piano Concerto, Op. 39, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Daniell Revenaugh. This was the first commercial recording of Busoni's elephantine concerto, which is in five movements, calls for male chorus in the last movement and lasts as long as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Since its 1967 release, some earlier recordings of the Busoni concerto, made live with Noel Mewton-Wood and Gunnar Johansen, have surfaced, and new ones have been made, most notably with Garrick Ohlsson (for Telarc) and Marc-André Hamelin (for Hyperion). But nothing can supplant the Ogdon recording -- it not only established the Busoni concerto as an unjustly neglected masterpiece well worth hearing, but it also helped begin the process of Busoni's rehabilitation as a composer of worth. For those not familiar with the Busoni Piano Concerto, then this arrives as an excellent, low-cost option to sample it. The sound quality of this EMI Encore CD is excellent, far better than the original American LP release that, though enclosed in one of the handsomest packages accorded to an instrumental EMI release in the 1960s, suffered from ticky surfaces and indifferent mastering. The new CD also reveals that Daniell Revenaugh's accompaniment, often the target of negative commentary from critics who have dealt with this recording over the years, really isn't as bad one may have thought judging from the murky LP pressing. It's a dense recording to start with, one that incidentally was interrupted momentarily by Paul McCartney, who shunted Revenaugh aside to lead the orchestra in overdubs for the Beatles' A Day in the Life. Pink Floyd was also recording A Piper at the Gates of Dawn down the hallway at the time. Unfortunately, the concerto gobbles up all but one minute of this 70-minute CD, so we are not treated to the original album filler, a transparent account by Revenaugh and the RPO of Busoni's Sarabande & Cortège, Op. 51. However, given the low asking price of this Encore issue there really isn't that much to complain about, apart from skimpy, practically nonexistent notes and a generic cover design. However, Ogdon's palpitating, Mephistophelean performance is the main reason to own it -- he powers through Busoni's finger-busting piano part like a sawmill through frozen butter, making relatively short work, at least to the ears, of some of the most difficult keyboard music in history. © TiVo
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Classical - Released July 2, 2007 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released January 1, 1989 | Hallmark

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Classical - Released March 8, 2010 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released February 25, 2015 | RCA Red Seal

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Concertos - Released January 1, 2007 | Lyrita

Booklet
In the early years of the twentieth century, composer Cyril Scott was briefly heralded as one of the brightest hopes for English music, but after the First World War, as public tastes shifted, his work fell out of favor with audiences, and it was only toward the end of the twentieth century that a critical reappraisal began. His music, which was admired by Debussy, Elgar, and Strauss, is being played with greater frequency and is finding new listeners. The pieces presented here, his two piano concertos and Early One Morning, a tone poem for piano and orchestra, were recorded in 1975 and 1977 by pianist John Ogdon with Bernard Herrmann conducting the London Philharmonic. Scott's music is at once intellectually rigorous and sensuously appealing, and it's easy to understand the respect that such eminent composers felt for his work. His first Piano Concerto (1913-1914) shows the influence of the harmonies of Debussy and Ravel, while retaining that indefinable Englishness that also characterized the much of the work of his contemporaries, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst. The second Piano Concerto, written in the late '50s, was never performed during the composer's lifetime. While not stylistically too far removed from the first concerto, its tone is less distinctive; it sounds more cosmopolitan and generically neo-romantic. Early One Morning (1931) is a rhapsodic and highly attractive tone poem for piano and orchestra that recalls the world of La Mer. Ogdon performs all the works with obvious affection and with high energy and Herrmann emphasizes the music's broad lyric lines. Lyrita's sound is resonant but clean. © TiVo
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Classical - Released September 1, 2013 | Chandos

Booklet
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Classical - Released May 1, 1998 | Warner Classics UK

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Classical - Released February 7, 2020 | Altarus Records

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Classical - Released October 4, 1969 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released February 7, 2020 | Altarus Records

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Classical - Released May 22, 2020 | Editions Audiovisuel Beulah

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Classical - Released February 7, 2020 | Altarus Records

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Classical - Released April 5, 2004 | Warner Classics

Among the 13 sets of variations for solo piano by Beethoven on this two discs set, only three of them are even reasonably well known and the rest might as well come from the dark side of the moon as far as even the most dedicated of Beethoven lovers are concerned. Pretty much everybody has heard of Beethoven's Variations on "God Save the King" and "Rule Britannia" and folks who frequent piano recitals will sooner or later have bumped into his rambunctious and unbuttoned Variations on an original theme in C minor. But the rest of the variations here remain at the outer reaches of the pianist's repertoire: too recherché for all but the specialist pianists and too virtuosic for all but the best pianists. Enter John Ogdon. Although three of the variations were recorded in 1968 by the magisterial Emil Gilels, the other ten were recorded in November 1969 by John Ogdon, the brilliant English virtuoso who championed Busoni's Promethean Piano Concerto and the Lucifer Suite of Nielsen. Ogdon's performances of Beethoven's Variations are just as incandescent, just as virtuosic, just as compelling as his performances of Busoni and Nielsen and, let's admit it, the music is a lot better. Even though most of Beethoven's variations were designed to charm by their wit and delight by their virtuosity, they are still the early works by one of the supreme masters of variation form and his earliest works in the genre are at the same level of audacious brilliance as his earliest piano sonatas. And you know that can't be bad. EMI's late-'60s stereo sound is warm and close and perhaps a bit too reverberant in the climaxes. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 1989 | IMP

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Classical - Released November 25, 2005 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released January 1, 1986 | IMP

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Classical - Released February 7, 2020 | Altarus Records

John Ogdon was one of the great interpreters of Ferruccio Busoni's keyboard music in the first stage of its latter-day revival, and his EMI Angel recording of Busoni's Piano Concerto, Op. 39, can be said to have "made" that work as a viable, if impractical, concert staple. Between that triumph in 1967 and the recordings on Altarus' Busoni: Piano Works, made in 1988 -- the last full year of Ogdon's short life -- there were a host of detours and disappointments for the pianist. A nervous breakdown or two, long hospitalizations, longer absences from the concert stage, and a comeback received lukewarmly by critics were all hallmarks of a career that would have stopped lesser men cold. Even at the worst stages of his illness, Ogdon routinely practiced at least three hours a day on his hospital's Steinway. The decline of technique attributed to Ogdon during his latter years, no matter what it might have been in one concert setting or another, is simply not in evidence on this Altarus reissue of a disc originally made for the long-extinct English label Continuum. These are three of the hardest pieces in piano literature -- the notorious two-hand version of the Fantasia Contrappuntistica; Busoni's shimmering, mysterious Fantasia nach Bach; and his fiery and frantically intense Toccata, among Busoni's last works for the piano. In the Toccata alone, Ogdon briefly gets his fingers tangled up in the opening "Preludio," but other than that the music is all there. It is played brilliantly for the most part, but that is not what one turns to Ogdon for in Busoni. Of the many pianists who have braved the stormy waters of Busoni's piano music, Ogdon seemed the best at evoking the alchemical, Mephistophelian side of the composer, as opposed to his more balanced, classicistic profile, the latter aspect well explored on record by Busoni's pupil Egon Petri and realized efficiently by Alfred Brendel in his few Busoni recordings. The music roars out of the mystery of darkness as Ogdon pilots his craft through the dark and turbulent seas of Busoni's demonic, and often sublimely beautiful, harmonic combinations, trills, and rumbling low-register chords. Altarus' Busoni: Piano Works with John Ogdon isn't just a single recording among many of the now well-known, high-intensity keyboard literature -- it is a singular entry all its own, the combination of composer and interpreter leading to a specific experience that is unique. Altarus is to be applauded for making this great recording available again; the sound is likewise excellent, except that the Toccata was recorded at a different session from the rest and is a tad over-reverberant © TiVo