Monday, November 30, 2009

Sergio Fiorentino - the Chopin Preludes and Impromptus

Here is the second instalment of Fiorentino's Chopin recordings, made in the fifties for Concert Artist/SAGA records. For more about these recordings, see the previous post which, due to the reverse-chronology of blogging, appears after this one.

Chopin: Preludes Op 28
recorded: 4 March 1959 London, Hornsey Town Hall
First issued
LP: Saga XID 5076 (1959)
      Saga STM 6009 (1959)
      Roulette R 75004 (1961)
Prelude in C sharp Minor, op. 45
recorded: 4 March 1959 London, Hornsey Town Hall
First issued
LP: Saga XID 5076 (1959)
      Saga STM 6009 (1959)
      Roulette R 75004 (1961)

Prelude in A flat Major, op. posth.
recorded: 4 March 1959 London, Hornsey Town Hall

LP: Saga XID 5076 (1959)
      Saga STM 6009 (1959)
      Roulette R 75004 (1961)

recorded: 30 May - 1 June 1962 Paris, Salle Wagram

LP: Fidelio ATL 4098 / TLS 6035 (1965)
Recording dates from information from Ernst Lumpe's website at

FLAC file & Cuesheet. No covers

Sergio Fiorentino - the Chopin Studies

Sergio Fiorentino (December 22, 1927 – August 22, 1998)

One of the most undervalued pianists of the last century. He recorded a large amount of repertoire for the now notorious Concert Artist label, run by William Barrington-Coupe, who perpetrated the Joyce Hatto fraud.

Alas, Barrington-Coupe also issued fraudulent recordings under Fiorentino's name, cashing in on the pianist's popularity in the last years of his life. We will probably never know which of these recordings are actual Fiorentino and which were fakes. However, these Chopin studies are for real. They were issued in Fiorentino's own lifetime.

I am grateful to Ernst Lumpe, who was Fiorentino's champion, benefactor and friend in the last decade of his life, for the original recordings. They are posted here with his blessing.

The studies are a variable feast, I think, with signs of the hasty and often improvised recording conditions. However, I will be posting the Preludes, which are of a more consistently high quality. Be patient!

Chopin: The complete studies Op 10 and 25, and three Nouvelles Etudes, Op Posth.
Sergio Fiorentino, Piano
Apple Lossless
Recorded : Op  10: 8 January 1962 London, Greenwich Borough Hall
Op 25: 4 March 1959 London, Hornsey Town Hall
3 Nouvelles Etudes : 14 October 1954 London, Conway Hall

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Poulenc : Concerto for 2 pianos - US première with Poulenc and Crochet

Here's an evening to remember! Poulenc himself, together with the young french pianist Evelyne Crochet, joined the Boston Symphony for the US première of Poulenc's 2-piano concerto, with Charles Munch conducting. 21st of February 1961.

The playing sparkles and rollicks. There is an air of everyone enjoying themselves hugely.

This recording seems to be a rebroadcast of the original radio tape. It's hissy, but, by golly, you forget that within a couple of minutes.

And I must put in a plug for Evelyne Crochet's recording of the Bach Well-tempered Clavier (Music and Arts). This is Bach playing to live with for years - exquisite. Indeed, why not head over to Music and Arts - the whole outfit is virtually a one-man band. Fred Maroth, who runs it, is a wonderful character who has somehow managed to maintain a label of staggering diversity when many others have gone to the wall.

mp3, 256kps VBR - hissy but great.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Stockhausen : Stimmung - Theatre of Voices, Paul Hillier live

That old curmudgeon Sir Thomas Beecham was asked if he had ever conducted any Stockhausen.
No, he replied, but it's curious you should mention it I trod in some only yesterday.

Alas, a lot of avant-garde music of yesteryear is like the sci-fi of yesteryear – the vision of the future of the past. I get nostalgic listening to old time classics like Morton Subotnik's SilverApples of the Moon, which now seem as old as formica kitchens. Likewise the Helicopter Quartet, where each member of the string quartet plays from a helicopter hovering over the auditorium. I mean, puh-leeeuz! 

Stimmung, though, has somehow survived all this. I still like it, and feel it hasn't lost any of its lustre with the passage of time. Perhaps because writing for human voices places constraints on a composer that are fundamental.

This is a truly remarkable live performance, with Ian Dearden (sound projection), Theatre of Voices directed by Paul Hillier. It was recorded on 2nd of August 2008.

In deference to Boom, I should add that this recording is mp3 at about 230kbs variable bit rate. And I've no idea of its provenance. 

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From Yiddish Folk-Poetry Song Cycle Op.79 - Simonov 1997

A wonderful performance from the, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, October 1997. I'd like to thank John, the original uploader, for his permission to post the file here.

I'd never really warmed to this song cycle before, but this performance is a clincher. The soloists are splendid and the whole cycle moves with the sense of purposefulness that you get in live performance.

The soloists are
Maria Chagoutch, mezzo soprano
Anastasia Soupovskaya, mezzo soprano
Evgueny Akhimov, tenor
with the Saint Peterburg Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor Yuri Simonov

MP3, 256kbs from radio

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Georges Pludermacher - a recital of Janacek, Beethoven and Stravinsky

Janacek : In the Mists
Beethoven : Piano Sonata No 17 op 31/2 in D minor 'The Tempest'   
Stravinsky : Le Sacre du Printemps (version for piano solo)   
Debussy : From Etudes : Pour les quartes (encore)

Georges Pludermacher
Festival Radio France et Monpellier 2009

I can't stand Stravinsky, but for completeness I've posted it. You may have more fun with it than I've had.

The Beethoven is excellent, and a good teaser for Pludermacher's startlingly cheap complete sonatas, which you can download for the outrageous price of €9.99 from Qobuz - and you get the Diabelli variations thrown in!

Recorded from France Musique, internet 128 kbs

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