Landmarks of Recorded Pianism, Vol. 3
52076-2 (2 CDs) | $42 ($38 to preferred customers)
Our next piano issue is volume three in the Landmarks of Recorded Pianism series. This two-CD set comprises piano solos, concerti, and two spoken reminiscences. Producers Gregor Benko and Ward Marston have selected these recordings because of their intrinsic musical and historic importance, hoping that they will merit the attention of music lovers, scholars, and collectors. Most of the offerings in this set will be completely new to collectors and enthusiasts since they will be available here for the first time.
The center pieces of the set are two concerto performances taken from broadcasts, both marvelous in different ways: first we present Chopin’s F-minor concerto from a 1936 broadcast with Polish pianist, Jan Smeterlin, ably supported by the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Serge Koussevitzky. A performance of both tumult and tenderness, it is the earliest known live performance of this work.
Then we offer a 1950 BBC broadcast of the Schumann concerto with 79-year-old Adelina de Lara, who had studied the work with Clara Schumann nearly sixty years earlier. De Lara gives an almost “chamber music” reading of the concerto, with subtle gradations of color and phrasing. We are also offering a third performance with piano and orchestra, but not an actual concerto. It is a seven-minute concoction of themes from the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s first concerto, made for a Coca-Cola sponsored radio program, played by the great Russian pianist, Simon Barere, with André Kostelanitz conducting the orchestra. This strange little pastiche is a new addition to the Barere discography.
For piano solo recordings, we first feature two recently discovered acoustic sides made in 1919 by African-American composer and pianist, Nathaniel Dett. These are lovely, serene readings of two short pieces from two suites, and we can only wish that we could hear more, but we have been assured that these are the only recordings of his artistry. The set also includes recordings by Australian-born pianist Elsie Hall whose only records are twelve sides made for HMV in 1930. These can be heard here for the first time in reissue, as well as a splendid performance of Bach’s C-minor Partita recorded privately when Hall was 86 years old. Our Landmarks third volume concludes by paying tribute to the English pianist, Katherine Goodson, 1872–1958. Goodson, a star pupil of Leschetizky, enjoyed a great career spanning a half-century yet sadly left us no recordings of her extraordinary artistry. Here, however, we can hear her speaking on two BBC broadcasts. First, a detailed reminiscence about her studies with Leschetizky, where she plays eight brief musical extracts. Our set concludes with Goodson giving a touching account of her week’s stay with soprano, Mellie Melba, at her Australian home.