Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sergio Fiorentino - the Chopin Waltzes

There has always been a bit of hesitancy among Fiorentino fans about his Waltzes, recorded in July 1958. These are, well, the waltzes of a young touring pianist - extrovert, devil-may-care.

I first heard this record when I was twelve, and loved it. These was something intoxicating about the sheer verve of the playing. And this was the first time anyone had recorded all 19 waltzes - I was bitterly disappointed when I bought my first score and discovered that there were only 14 'official' waltzes in it. (The last is certainly not by Chopin, but the editors of the Henle edition decided to keep publishing it, on the grounds that people liked it, and that there would be no chance of anyone publishing or playing it unless they did so.)

Fiorentino does a little rewriting here and there (listen carefully and have your ears tickled), and has no hesitation in doing a little filling in of the texture in the unpublished waltzes. And, I believe, the first recording of the three little Ecossais, recorded in 1955.

It's a document of an era when you could sit down at the piano and just play without someone rustling an urtext. Many years later I still love it.

This is a needledrop, done by a friend. No noise reduction (this is left as an exercise to the reader) and only mp3 at 192 kbs, but I did manage to find and embed the original cover art.

Download from Rapidshare
Download from Mediafire


  1. Hello Ronan. I have this (in the Hannes Bruno Lindstrom variant - Lyrique HPG 1017 ie: Saga XID 5016) but, according to Lumpe ( ), these were all recorded 7th July 1958 - and that the 1953 Waltzes tapes had vanished?! I had previously considered (but, being stereo, the files would be large) two 1970 reissues on Revolution RCB 10 (Chopin) RCB 23 (Carnaval + Bach/Liszt, etc) - these listed on the Lumpe discography. Frank

  2. Ah - you are right about the dates. I was unaware that there were two recordings of the Waltzes, and assumed that these were the earlier ones.

    Dates now fixed - many thanks.

  3. Almost there..! Recorded in Hamburg - also, there should be 3 Ecossaises (also recorded Hamburg, 1958). I have a love/hate relationship with those Fiorentino's and sometimes consider the playing to be rather 'flippant'. BTW - if you look at the bottom of the discography you see various nom-du-disques. Beethoven Emperor (have the Saga AAA stereo) is then listed under 'Paul Procopolis' on 'Fidelity'. Interestingly, Fidelity FDY 2043 is Beethoven PC3. with 'Procopolis/Leipzig Pro Arte/Johann Walde' - thought not sure if anyone has identified that as Fiorentino. Could (almost) convince myself it was but as it's a nice performance does it really matter?

  4. Moi qui croyais que ça y est, le voisin était passé avec armes et bagages chez Mediafire...

  5. Patience, mon cher voisin! Aujourd'hui ou, au pire, demain.

  6. That hardly sounds like a needle-drop. In fact, I don't hear much evidence of an LP at all. In any event, thanks for the transfer.

  7. When you say the last is not by Chopin, do you mean the last waltz on the Fiorentino recording?


  8. Yes, I do. The editors of the Henle Urtext included it in their edition with the clear statement that it was spurious, and that the actual composer is unknown, but they felt that if they didn't publish it, it would become unobtainable.

  9. Hi Ronan, I adore Fiorentino's reading of the waltzes, they are almost improvisatory at times, in my imagination, rather like hearing Liszt play Chopin!!! I am searching for Fiorentino's recording on Saga of the complete Nocturnes of Chopin, I have heard snippets on YouTube and they are beguiling, I don't suppose you know where I could lay my hands on them....
    Best regards. Gerard

  10. Yes, by golly, that I can do.

    I'm glad you like the waltzes. They are, as you say, the readings of a touring virtuoso, and many miles removed from the thoughtful and lyrical quality that Fiorentino brought to his later playing. Yet they burst with life and vitality and elan. He isn't afraid to extemporise a little either. This is playing of an age that was killed off by recording, somehow caught on the wing in a studio.

    I'll dig out the nocturnes.