How do you rank the Busoni among the great piano concertos and what makes it great in your eyes?
In some ways, it’s the greatest in terms of sheer scope and ambition. I think the way to think about it really is as a Mahler-sized symphony with piano.
The fact that it is such a symphonic concerto makes it a logical successor to those of Beethoven and Brahms. Busoni, however, was protesting when he talked about the circus-like aspect of piano concertos and how everything compositionally had been leading to a more unified idea of a concerto, and in that sense a symphonic piece. Therefore, I would rank it alongside those symphonic concertos like Beethoven No 4 and No 5 and continuing with Brahms. In Busoni’s mind, with the choir he was taking the next logical step from the Beethoven Choral Fantasyand the Ninth Symphony.
There is a danger when people hear that it’s the longest concerto in the repertoire and one of the most difficult concerti, immediately an image is conjured of the most athletic thing and the most, in that sense, circus-like parody of what a concerto is....