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The Complete Josef Hofmann, Vol. 9

The culmination of over a decade of releases, Marston is issuing the final volume of the complete Josef Hofmann recordings. Hofmann combined unparalleled virtuosity with emotion, understanding, and spontaneity to create some of the finest piano playing ever recorded. This set begins with newly mastered transfers of the three wax cylinders from 1896, originally released on our three-CD set The Dawn of Recording. Using new pitch stabilization technology, we have been able to improve, albeit slightly, the sonic reproduction of the cylinders recorded in Russia by the twenty year-old Hofmann, shortly following the death of his teacher, Anton Rubinstein. Included on this final volume are several alternative takes of Columbia and Brunswick recordings not offered on earlier volumes, the soundtrack of the film produced by the Bell Telephone Company that was shown in movie theaters to promote their radio program, “The Telephone Hour”, as well as a recently discovered, superior-sounding, source for the Cadillac Hour program from 1936, in which Hofmann gives a spectacular performance of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”. We issued this broadcast on volume six, but we want to make sure that Hofmann enthusiasts have the opportunity to own this better-sounding source. We have waited several years to produce this set, hoping to be able to discover further broadcast recordings of Hofmann in the interim (notes for the set will include a listing of Hofmann broadcasts which we know were recorded). As none of the eagerly-sought recordings have appeared, we are going ahead with some non-musical recordings concerning Hofmann. Half of the set will feature a collection of recorded interviews, conducted mostly by Gregor Benko. In these, which date back to the 1970s, we hear fascinating commentary by Rudolph Ganz, Jorge Bolet, Charles Rosen, Gian-Carlo Menotti, Glenn Gould, Constance Keene, Nella Rubinstein, Ruth Steinway, and Hofmann’s son, Anton, speaking candidly about  Hofmann the pianist and Hofmann the man. One interview, with a minor pianist whose name will be unfamiliar to most, Thadeus Sadlowski, is both fascinating and funny (while most of them are anything but funny.) Choosing these interviews from the large number that Gregor Benko collected and recorded, then editing them for content, has taken hundreds of hours of intense work, and we feel that they make a fitting finale to the complete Josef Hofmann CD series. We will never cease our search for additional Hofmann recordings, which if discovered, we will make every effort to publish.

Lotte Lehmann

Lotte Lehmann enjoyed a forty-year career spanning 1910 to 1950 on stage in opera and on the concert platform. Remembered now primarily for her portrayals of Wagner and Strauss roles and as a consummate interpreter of German lieder, her early recordings, not widely known, give us a broader picture of this great artist. It will, perhaps, not come as a surprise to hear Lehmann in her now familiar roles: Sieglinde, Elsa, Eva, and the Marschallin. What really makes these records outstanding is the ease and beauty of Lehmann's vocal production, and the opportunity of hearing her in repertoire not associated with her. We are treated to a generous sprinkling of Mozart, including three duets with baritone Heinrich Schlusnus, as well as arias by Weber, Lortzing, and Nicolai. Although she sings in German, you can hear French opera arias from La Juive, Faust, Mignon, Carmen, Tales of Hoffmann, and Manon. From Italian opera, we hear the Willow Song from Otello and Puccini arias from Manon Lescaut, La Bohème, Tosca, Butterfly, and two rare recordings from Suor Angelica. Other highlights include Lehmann's recording of Tatyana's Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin, an aria from d'Albert's Die toten Augen, and the exquisite aria and duet from Korngold's Die tote Stadt with tenor Richard Tauber. These are among the greatest treasures of the acoustic recording era. The booklet contains a biographical essay by Dr. Daniel Jacobson, Professor of Music at Western Michigan University, an essay on the recordings by Michael Aspinall, and a personal reminiscence by André Tubeuf, who has also provided numerous rare and lovely photos from Lehmann’s early career prior to her emergence on to the international operatic scene. Since there is some extra space at the end of the fourth CD, we are offering a selection of operatic and lieder recordings from her electric Odeon discography, 1927-1932.

William Kapell

William Kapell, 1922-1953, is a name that still resonates with pianophiles more than 60 years after his tragic death in an airplane crash near San Francisco. We are pleased to announce a three-CD set of Kapell performances that have never been issued on CD. In fact more than two thirds of the set is previously unpublished in any form. Among the highlights are two 1952 half-hour studio broadcasts from New York's WQXR that have only recently come to light. The set will also include a 1949 performance of Richard Strauss's Burleske, a 1951 performance of Debussy's Suite Bergamasque, and Schumann's Piano Quintet in E-flat with the Fine Arts Quartet dating from the same year. The booklet will include several photos that have not previously been published and an unpublished piece on Kapell by pianist Raymond Lewenthal, 1923-1988.

Marston Records

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West Chester, PA 19380

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Free CDs to Preferred Customers!

In recognition of our Preferred Customers, Marston created the Lagniappe Series. This series consists of single disc issues that are given to Preferred Customers free of charge. Read More.