Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Luisada plays Fauré and Chopin

Concert donné le 25 avril 2010, Théâtre du Châtelet à Paris
Carte blanche à Jean-Marc Luisada

I had reservations about recording this recital. Luisada's recordings ranged from remarkable simplicity and sensitivity (his Bizet, for example) to downright annoying mannerism (some of his Chopin).

I need not have worried. Time seems to have favoured the sensitivity and banished the eccentricity. His reading of the haunting eleventh nocturne which opens the recital is utterly gallic in its restrained grief, and his mazurkas are, I think, vastly better than those he recorded in the 90s for DGG.

Nocturne n°11 en fa dièse mineur op 104 n°1 (à la mémoire de Noemie Lalo)    6:54   
Nocturne n°12 en si majeur op 104 n°2    6:54   
Nocturne n°6 en ré bémol Majeur op 63    10:07   
Nocturne n°7 en ut dièse mineur op 74    10:04

Ballade n°2 en fa majeur opus 38    8:09   
Quatre Mazurkas opus 24 n° 1 en sol mineur    2:08   
Quatre Mazurkas opus 24 n° 2 en ut majeur    2:08   
Quatre Mazurkas opus 24 n° 3 en la bémol majeur    1:33   
Quatre Mazurkas opus 24 n° 4 en si bémol mineur    4:42   
Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise brillante en mi bémol Majeur op 22    14:39   

Encore : Morricone - incidental music from Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma    2:47

Once again, France Musique has done an astonishing job of engineering.

France Musique internet 128kbs
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Anatole Kitain - a pianist who might have been

Another might-have-been post. This one is a rare recording by the Russian pianist Anatole Kitain. Born in Saint Petersburg, his family moved to Kiev, where he studied in the Kiev Conservatory, whose students at that time included Horowitz, Alexander Uninsky and Alexander Brailowsky). In time, Kitain became the private pupil of Felix Blumenfeld, whose few private pupils also included Simon Barere and Horowitz (I'm quoting here from the Wikipedia entry which, in all fairness, I wrote).

Kitain moved to France, and then to the US, but success eluded him. His European recordings were released by APR on a fascinating two disc set which show him to have been a pianist of considerable technique and interpretive powers. It's hard to know why he never achieved even the cult status of Barere. His recordings are rare, and this one, of Bach and Scarlatti, even more of an oddity because it features the so-called Siena Pianoforte.

There are doubts about the Siena Pianoforte, a richly-ornamented 19th century piano which, it is claimed, was originally commissioned in 1800 by a wealthy Sienese farmer. To my mind, the sound is quite unlike anything else from the period, and I would place it later for that reason alone. The subsequent history of the piano makes unlikely reading, and even if it were true, it is difficult to believe that the piano we hear on this recording is actually one and the same piano that in 1868 became the wedding gift from the city of Siena to the Crown Prince Umberto and was kept in Rome with other art treasures of the Royal Family.

So then - a mystery pianist playing a mystery piano.

What is less mysterious is the playing. Kitain plays with grace, power and depth - listen to the Scarlatti sonata, played with poignant simplicity, and imagine the piano quake as he unleashes the full might of Busoni's transcription of the D minor chaconne. How did the instrument survive?

There were six LPs made on the Siena piano, which included an album by Charles Rosen, which I will post as soon as I finish marking my assignments. The transfer is by that old rogue Dr Duffy, pianophile, maniacal recording restorer and philosopher. Long life to you, John!

Download from Rapidshare mp3 224 kbs

Wyn Morris conducts Mahler's tenth

The conductor who might have been – Wyn Morris, born in1929, died last February. His career was marked by sensational conducting combined with his utter inability to manage his relations with others. Time and time again he managed to squander the advantages that opened up - he scuppered a recording deal that was offered to him by negotiating one with another recording company (neither, apparently materialised) and threatened legal action in the most bizarre of circumstances. You can read a fascinating obituary here.

His recording of Mahler's songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn with Janet Baker and Geraint Evans are the stuff of legend, and have been available almost continuously since they were recorded by a small and short-lived label. They were subsequently released by Decca, then by another small independent company, then by Nimbus.

However, he came to my attention as the man to record Deryck Cooke's second revised performing version of Mahler's tenth symphony for Philips. It appeared on two LPs but, young and Mahler-crazed as I was, I promptly shelled out and bought it. I think I played the LPs into oblivion over the next year. It was a work that fascinated me and there was not a moment of Morris's interpretation that didn't seem exactly right.

Philips didn't release the recording on CD, much to my surprise. So here, as a tribute to one of the oddest members of an odd profession, is an LP transfer - not mine, and not the work of the friend who passed it on to me.

Download from Rapidshare mp3, 192k

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Alexandre Tharaud : Chopin, Schubert and a third half!

Alexandre Tharaud
Recital 7 avril 2010, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées à Paris

France Musique has been doing us pianophiles proud - Angelich and
Tharaud on successive days.

Tharaud's programme is a very personal selection of Chopin, along with his own transcription of four of the movements from Rosamunde,  and his five encores amount to a virtual 'third half'.

 I love his long, spidery arms, very evident in the photo. Another pianist of remarkable physique whom I haven't posted here is Roger Muraro, a real giant in every sense. Must do. But not yet - I'm off to Cambodia for a couple of weeks. Work…

Franz Schubert
Six Moments Musicaux op 94 D 780
Four movements from Rosamunde op 26 D 797 (transcription d'Alexandre

Frédéric Chopin : 
Nocturne n° 2 en mi bémol Majeur op 9 n° 2
Fantaisie-Impromptu en ut dièse mineur op 66
Fantaisie en fa mineur op 49
Nocturne n° 20 en ut dièse mineur op posth
Mazurka en la mineur op 17 n° 4
Ballade n° 1 en sol mineur op 23

Bach : Concerto BWV 979 (transcription d'Alexandre Tharaud)
Chopin : Mazurka en ut dièse mineur Op 63
Rameau : Les Sauvages
Chopin : Valse (la mineur)
Couperin : Le tic-toc choc

France Musique Internet 128 kbs mp3
Engineering excellent comme d'habitude.


Nicholas Angelich : Haydn, Bach and Liszt

Another excellent recital from Nicholas Angelich in a decent recording
from France Musique

Angelich is a pianist who has been quietly gaining in stature in the past couple of years. If I haven't posted his Brahms and Schumann, I must. I've been listening to it over the last couple of months, and it's got me revisiting my old Brahms scores.

Joseph Haydn : Variations en fa mineur Hob. XVII:6

Johann Sebastian Bach : Suite anglaise n° 2 en la mineur BWV 807

Franz Liszt : Sonate en si mineur

Encores: Rachmaninoff: Preludes in G and G sharp minor
Schumann : Traumerei

Recorded 30 Jenuary 2009, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées à Paris

France Musique Internet 128 kbs
Broadcast 26th April 2010