The premiere recording of Ferruccio Busoni’s Complete Two Piano Works (EMI/Angel) will be celebrated by the Musical Offering (Bancroft Avenue below Telegraph), this Wednesday 5-7 p.m., with a reception for and signing by pianists Daniell Revenaugh of Berkeley and Lawrence Leighton Smith, currently musical director of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic.
“Fantasia Contrappuntistica” and the “Berceuse Elegiaque,” as well as works based on Mozart and Bach, were transcribed by Egon Petri, Busoni’s protegé, who later taught at Mills College in Oakland. While Busoni was composing his opera, Doktor Faust, and reducing his own concert schedule, he composed these two works for a full concert program both would play, in order to promote Petri’s career.
Busoni and Petri memorabilia will be featured, including photos, as well as letters and manuscripts related to the compositions, which were recovered by Revenaugh in Europe. The public is invited, free of charge, and refreshments will be served.
“I was associated with Petri for about 10 years,” said Revenaugh, “looking him up due to his relationship to Busoni. In 1960, I rescued the papers and photographs Petri had left behind, in chaos, in the wake of the War, in Zakopanje [Poland]. Over 300 letters, including some to Brahms. He knew everybody, including Rilke and Joyce, from the years spent in Zurich. He was a fascinating character. I’ll have pictures as well as manuscripts and letters relating to the compositions in the Musical Offering’s glass cases.”
The collaboration on this project, recorded at Yale, began when Smith conducted a premiere work for the Louisville Orchestra of Revenaugh’s schoolmate, Ellen Zwillich. When Zwillich introduced the two, Smith said to him, “You conducted the great recording of the Busoni Concerto. Let’s do something wild like that!”
Revenaugh is pursuing another project of compositions from notable friends, like Smith (who will be represented by three pieces), including a piano sonata by Carlisle Floyd, composed at the time he was working on his opera, Susannah (1955), “which has been performed more than West Side Story,” according to Revenaugh, “the premiere American folk opera, after Porgy and Bess.”
Revenaugh owns the ex-slave cabin in which Floyd lived in Tallahassee, now moved to a preservation plantation where Revenaugh plans to have it restored for seminars and study, “as Floyd House.”