Monday, May 27, 2002

[5/27/2012] A farewell to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (continued)

>

Fischer-Dieskau at 80
(from the July 2005 BBC Music Magazine interview)


OF COURSE WE'VE BEEN HEADING TOWARD THE GREAT
CLIMACTIC "FAREWELL" FROM THE SONG OF THE EARTH


We've been through the monumental (roughly half-hour) final movement, "Der Abschied" ("The Farewell"), of Mahler's song-symphony Das Lied von der Erde" (The Song of the Earth), swallowing it first in pieces and then whole in the course of remembering Maureen Forrester in July 2010. (Really, could we have remembered Forrester properly without "Der Abschied"?

As I've said before, I've never been that big a fan of Fischer-Dieskau's way with Mahler, which generally seemed to me overly fussed and fake-interpreted. But if we're going to traffic in farewells -- and I don't mean the tidy "parting is such sweet sorrow" kind we listened to Friday -- then I think we turn inevitably to the great final movement of Das Lied.

The baritone option for the three low-voice songs always seems like a good idea, but I've never heard it really work, mostly because while baritones can sing the music, it sits differently enough in the male voice to leave them mostly worrying about vocal problems. That said, I think Fischer-Dieskau's first recording, with that much-underrated conductor Paul Kletzki, is as close an attempt as I've heard.

The later recording with Leonard Bernstein has always been hard for me to peg. A lot of the time it doesn't much engage or compel me, but if I'm in the right mood, it can do both.

We hear first Fischer-Dieskau's two recordings of Das Lied as soloist, and then the recording he made as conductor. The three movements out of the six written for the "low voice" soloist are singable by either a mezzo-soprano (or contralto) or a baritone. Given the overwhelming predominance of female performances, I think we've all gone through the phase of imagining that the music would really work better dropped down into the male range. Unfortunately, it just doesn't. When the music goes high, it moves into an area that in any self-respecting mezzo or even contralto voice should have a distinctive fullness and expressivity, whereas in the male voice it lands the singer right smack in the area of the vocal break, where his first concern has to be just singing it respectably, never mind fine points of interpretation. (It took me awhile, but I came to really love LB's audio and video remake with Christa Ludwig, René Kollo, and the Israel Philharmonic.)

As for the Fischer-Dieskau-conducted performance, how could we not include it?

MAHLER: Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth):
vi. "Der Abschied" ("The Farewell")

[English translation by Deryck Cooke, © 1967]

The sun is going down behind the mountains.
In every valley evening is descending,
bringing its shadows, which are full of coolness.
O look! where like a silver bark afloat,
the moon through the blue lake of heaven soars upwards.
I sense the shivering of a delicate breeze
behind the dark fir trees.

The flowers grow pale in the twilight.
The earth is breathing, full of rest and sleep;
all desire now turns to dreaming.
Weary mortals wend homewards,
so that, in sleep, forgotten joy
and youth they may learn anew.
The birds huddle silent on the branches.
The world is falling asleep!

It blows cool in the shadow of my fir trees.
I stand here and wait for my friend.
I wait for him, to take the last farewell.
I long, O my friend, to be by your side,
to enjoy the beauty of this evening.
Where are you lingering? You leave me long alone!
I wander to and fro with my lute
on pathways that billow with soft grass.
O beauty! O eternal life- and love-intoxicated world!

Orchestral interlude

He alighted from his horse and handed him the drink
of farewell.
He asked him whither he was going,
and also why, why it had to be.
He spoke; his voice was veiled:
"You, my friend --
In this world fortune was not kind to me!
Whither I go? I go, I wander in the mountains,
I seek rest for my lonely heart!
I journey to the homeland, to my resting place;
I shall never again go seeking the far distance.
My heart is still and awaits its hour!

The dear earth everywhere
blossoms in spring and grows green again!
Everywhere and eternally the distance shines bright and blue!
Eternally . . . eternally . . .

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Philharmonia Orchestra, Paul Kletzki, cond. EMI, recorded October 1959

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Vienna Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein, cond. Decca, recorded April 1966

Yvi Jänicke, mezzo-soprano; Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, cond. Orfeo, recorded live, June 22, 1996


FINALLY, I PROMISED YOU "ICH BIN DER WELT
ABHANDEN GEKOMMEN
," AND HERE IT IS


The orchestral performance is of particular interest for the conductor. This 1963 coupling of Mahler Rückert songs (the complete Kindertotenlieder and four of the five separate Rückert settings) is the only Mahler I recall ever hearing Karl Böhm conduct. (This obviously isn't the case with Fischer-Dieskau's piano colleague in the -- really drawn-out -- piano-accompanied performance.)

MAHLER: Rückert-Lieder: "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" ("I have lost touch with the world")
I have lost touch with the world,
with which I formerly wasted much time.
It has for so long heard nothing of me,
it may well think that I have died.

And for me it doesn't matter at all
if it takes me for dead.
I can't even say anything against it,
for really I am dead to the world.

I am dead to the worldly tumult,
and rest in a quiet place.
I live alone in my heaven,
in my loving, in my song.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Berlin Philharmonic, Karl Böhm, cond. DG, recorded June 18, 1963

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Leonard Bernstein, piano. CBS/Sony, recorded Nov. 6, 1968


RETURN TO THE BEGINNING OF THE POST
#

Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 25, 2002

[5/25/2012] Preview: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1925-2012) (continued)

>

"Is this the most beautiful music ever written?" I asked when we first heard this astounding trio from Act I of Mozart's Così fan tutte, in a March remembrance of soprano Margaret Price. I'm still not prepared to say no.

MOZART: Così fan tutte, K. 588: Act I,
Trio, Fiordiligi, Dorabella, and Don Alfonso, "Soave sia il vento"

Gentle be the breeze,
Calm be the waves,
And every element
Smile in favour
On their wish.

Irmgard Seefried (s), Fiordiligi; Nan Merriman (ms), Dorabella; Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (b), Don Alfonso; Berlin Philharmonic, Eugen Jochum, cond. DG, recorded December 1962


FOR MOST MUSIC LOVERS, THERE ARE NO MORE
BEAUTIFUL EXPRESSIONS OF THE PAIN OF PARTING . . .


. . . than the Così trio we just heard and the Magic Flute quintet we're about to hear. Of course these farewells both contain at least the hope if not the expectation of seeing one another again. After all, the sisters in Così think their sweethearts are going off to war (Don Alfonso knows better, having set this whole charade in motion), while the gentlemen in The Magic Flute, being sent off to rescue the beautiful daughter of the Star-Flaming Queen of the Night from -- as they believe -- the evil Sarastro, don't know where the damn hell they're going.

Neither of the roles represented here figured much in Fischer-Dieskau's repertory. He did sing Don Alfonso in Così, but not much, and Papageno in The Magic Flute he never sang onstage, only for two complete recordings. (He explained once that he thought that at his over-six-foot height he would look ridiculous as the feathered bird-catcher Papageno.) However, in this later Magic Flute, with Karl Böhm conducting (not to mention Fritz Wunderlich singing Tamino), he sings (and in the spoken dialogue speaks) the best Papageno I've ever heard. It seems to me one of his finest recorded performances.

Turning to The Magic Flute, as a matter of fact when we first heard this quintet, which ends the opening scene of Act I, we didn't hear the whole thing. I owned up to having "edited the quintet brutally." At that time we picked up with the "farewell" sequence (about 4:15 of the clip below).

MOZART: The Magic Flute, K. 620: Act I, Scene 1,
Quintet, Tamino, Papageno, and the Three Ladies, "Hm-hm-hm-hm!"

The mysterious Three Ladies, emissaries of the Star-Flaming Queen of the Night, have padlocked the bird-catcher Papageno's mouth for claiming to have slain the serpent lying dead before him. In fact, it was the Three Ladies who slew the serpent, just as it was about to smite the handsome Prince Tamino.

PAPAGENO [points sadly at the lock on his mouth]:
Hm-hm-hm-hm, hm-hm-hm-hm,
hm-hm-hm-hm, hm-hm-hm-hm.
TAMINO: The poor fellow can talk about his punishment
because his speech is gone.
PAPAGENO: Hm-hm-hm-hm, hm-hm-hm-hm,
hm-hm-hm-hm, hm-hm-hm-hm.
TAMINO: I can't do anything but pity you
because I'm too weak to help.
[THE THREE LADIES enter.]
1st LADY: The Queen pardons you,
[takes the lock away from his mouth]
remits your punishment through me.
PAPAGENO: Now Papageno can chatter again?
2nd LADY: Yes, chatter! Just don't lie again!
PAPAGENO: I'll never lie again! No! No!
THE THREE LADIES: This lock will be your warning.
PAPAGENO: This lock will be my warning.
ALL: If all liars were given
such a lock on their mouths,
instead of hate, defamation, and black bile
love and brotherhood would endure.
1st LADY: O Prince, take this gift from me!
This is sent to you by our ruler.
[Gives him a golden flute.]
The magic flute will protect you,
in the greatest misfortune sustain you.
THE THREE LADIES: With it you can act all-powerfully,
transform the passions of your fellow men.
The sad one will become happy,
The bachelor will take on love.
ALL: Oh, such a flute is worth more than gold and crowns,
because through it human happiness and
contentment will grow.
PAPAGENO: Now, you beautiful ladies,
may I so take my leave?
THE THREE LADIES: You can always take your leave.
However, the ruler intends for you --
with the Prince, without dallying --
to hurry to Sarastro's castle.
PAPAGENO: No, I thank you for that!
From you yourselves I've heard
that he's like a tiger.
Surely Sarastro without mercy
would have me plucked and roasted;
he would set me out for the dogs.
THE THREE LADIES: The Prince will protect you -- trust him alone!
That's why you are to be his servant.
PAPAGENO [to himself]: Let the Prince go to the devil!
My life is dear to me;
in the end, by my honor, he will creep
away from me like a thief!
1st LADY [gives him a wooden box with bells inside]:
Here, take this treasure, it's yours.
PAPAGENO: Hey, hey, what might be inside there?
THE THREE LADIES: In there you'll hear little bells sound.
PAPAGENO: Will I even be able to play them?
THE THREE LADIES: Oh, absolutely! Yes, yes, indeed!
Little silver bells, magic flute
are needed for your protection.
Farewell, we are going.
Farewell, until we see you again!
TAMINO and PAPAGENO: Little silver bells, magic flute
are needed for our protection.
Farewell, we are going.
Farewell, until we see you again!
[All are about to go.]
TAMINO: Yet, fair ladies, tell us . . .
PAPAGENO: How the castle may be found.
TAMINO and PAPAGENO: How the castle may be found.

We should take some note of the tune that Mozart introduces here, at 4:46 of the clip, which for all its simplicity is of such sublimity, especially with its otherworldly harmonization and insistent rhythmic underpinning, as to make clear that this isn't some ordinary fairy tale we're dealing with here.

THE THREE LADIES: Three little boys, young, beautiful, gracious, and wise,
will accompany you on your journey.
They will be your guides,
follow nothing but their advice.
TAMINO and PAPAGENO: Three little boys, young, beautiful, gracious, and wise,
will accompany us on our journey.
THE THREE LADIES: They will be your guides,
follow nothing but their advice.
ALL: So farewell, we are going;
farewell, farewell, until we see you again!

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (b), Papageno; Frtiz Wunderlich (t), Tamino; Hildegard Hillebrecht (s), Cvetka Ahlin (ms), and Sieglinde Wagner (ms), the Three Ladies; Berlin Philharmonic, Karl Böhm, cond. DG, recorded 1964


IN THIS WEEK'S SUNDAY CLASSICS POST

As noted, we'll he hearing Fischer-Dieskau singing farewells of his own, through the medium of the composer we've heard him singing most often here in Sunday Classics.


RETURN TO THE BEGINNING OF THE POST
#

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, May 24, 2002

vogue

>




vogue

Labels:

Monday, May 20, 2002

[5/20/2012] A vision for the future in Beethoven's last piano sonata (continued)

>


After the triumph of Glenn Gould's Columbia Masterwords debut record, the still-dazzling 1955 Bach Goldberg Variations, the Columbia folks thought a perfect sequel would be the final trilogy of Beethoven sonatas -- unaware that GG hated late Beethoven. The first movement of Op. 111 starts with a fine, full-blooded Maestoso, then segues into a hilariously raced Allegro. (You'll recall from Friday that in Beethoven's First Sonata, where quick tempos might be stylistically appropriate, GG in fact took slower-than-usual tempos.) The second movement is also kind of silly.


WHY DON'T WE GO AHEAD WITH THREE ACTUAL
PERFORMANCES OF THE FIRST MOVEMENT OF OP. 111?


i. Maestoso; Allegro con brio ed appassionato

First we hear the best kind of traditional performance, beautifully resonant, even noble, from Wilhelm Kempff; then something just as noble but tauter and harder-driving, from Richard Goode, and finally, going in the opposite direction, something really special, darker and more tempestuous, from the great Russian pianist Tatiana Nikolayeva.


Wilhelm Kempff, piano. DG, recorded in Hannover (Germany), January 1964

Richard Goode, piano. Nonesuch, recorded in New York, c1987

Tatiana Nikolayeva, piano. Melodiya, recorded live in Moscow, Mar. 11, 1984


NOW WE MOVE ON TO ONE OF BEETHOVEN'S
MOST LUMINOUS CREATIONS, THE ARIETTA


You'll notice straight off that we're staring here in about as different a place from the first movement as one could imagine, an "Arietta" that might equally well be thought of as a hymn, which then . . . evolves, and changes shape, and twists and turns. It's a musical travelogue that has more of the character of a fantasia than what we think of as a sonata. (Which reminds me that we really have to get around to Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy one of these weeks. We did Beethoven's weirdly wonderful Choral Fantasy back in March 2010.)

Is it too far-fetched to suggest that another, perhaps nonlinear descendant of the Arietta is, or rather are, the Chopin ballades?

ii. Arietta: Adagio molto semplice e cantabile

The Beethoven Op. 109-11 Sonatas were specially favored repertory for Rudolf Serkin, which may partly explain why his son Peter, when he approached the late Beethoven sonatas, approached them very differently, starting with the use of a period instrument. Finally we hear Claude Frank, a wonderful pianist in his own right who happens to be a longtime student of Artur Schnabel.


Rudolf Serkin, piano. CBS/Sony, recorded in New York, Mar. 15-16, 1967

Peter Serkin, piano (Graf fortepiano). Pro Arte/Vanguard, recorded in St. Paul, c1984

Claude Frank, piano. RCA/Music & Art, recorded in New York, c1970


FINALLY I THOUGHT WE'D HEAR BOTH OF
ARTUR SCHNABEL'S RECORDINGS OF OP. 111


In June 1942 Schnabel, then living in the U.S. during the conflagration in Europe, recorded the last two Beethoven piano concertos with Frederick Stock and the Chicago Symphony. The same year, in four days in June in New York, he rerecorded two of the first Beethoven sonatas he had recorded in the Beethoven Society cycle: Opp. 109 and 111. Under wartime conditions they went unreleased, and after the war were apparently forgotten, and weren't released until 1976.

BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111
i. Maestoso; Allegro con brio ed appassionato
ii. Arietta: Adagio molto semplice e cantabile



[2nd movement at 8:18] Artur Schnabel, piano. EMI, recorded in London, Jan. 21 and Mar. 21, 1932 (digital transfer by Bob Varney)

Artur Schnabel, piano. RCA, recorded in New York, June 15-16, 1942


RETURN TO THE BEGINNING OF THE POST
#

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 13, 2002

[5/13/2012] Beethoven's superhero couple -- The Florestans have for sure done their duty (continued)

>

It's Simon O'Neill as Florestan again, this time at Wolf Trap, 2003 -- I would guess having the hallucination that concludes the Act II monologue.


LET ME START WITH AN EMBARRASSING RECOLLECTION

It must have been after the day's rehearsal in my high school orchestra, and a few of us were chatting with our conductor, who was relatively new to the school. He was a good guy, with perhaps a touch of saintliness in dealing with smart-ass kids. The subject of Fidelio came up, and I pooh-poohed it, blithering something about not seeing what the big deal was about an opera about (said with a sneer) marital fidelity. The conductor should have suggested tactfully that I didn't know what I was talking about. Instead he merely suggested that it might be about some other things as well.

And of course it is. Oh, it is about marital fidelity, but it's between two people who set the terrifying example of living their lives in strict accordance with their principles, which are lofty and subject to very little compromise.

It always drives me crazy that ignorant observers make fun of the dramatic premise, of a grown woman pretending to be a young man. How ridiculous! But of course it's opera, so what do we expect? However, under extraordinary circumstances, people do attempt these extraordinary feats. And so the smart alecks don't begin to come to grips with the full dimension of her heroism, which of course she would never describe as such. In her mind, she's simply doing what she has to.

As for her husband, it's true that we're given almost no information about the enmity between him and the evil Don Pizarro. But it seems clear just from the fact of the appearance in the final scene of the government minister Don Fernando (it's news of that impending visit that has caused Pizarro to decide that his enemy has to die, and quickly) that the depth of Pizarro's corruption has been successfully concealed from most everyone -- but not from Florestan. It seems pretty clear that Pizarro was driven to the almost unimaginably rash step of imprisoning Florestan (a man who is himself well-known and has friends in the highest places) out of the most advanced desperation, which must surely have to do with fear of imminent exposure.

Somewhere along the line I developed the image of a report that Florestan was about to file detailing the abuses and corruption of Pizarro's terror-ridden management of the prison. In my mind the report is all laid out starting with the most serious offenses, all neatly and thoroughly documented, and then working its way down, eventually coming to, say, misallocation of office supplies. It's not that he confuses the seriousness of the offenses; it's just not in his nature to fail to include the suspiciously large number of paper clips that have disappeared.


Florestan's monologue, part 1:
"Gott! Welch' Dunkel hier!" ("God! What darkness here!")

A dark underground dungeon. FLORESTAN is sitting on a stone. Around his body he has a long chain, whose end is fastened to the wall.

Anton Dermota (t), Florestan; Vienna Philharmonic, Karl Böhm, cond. Live performance, from the postwar reopening of the rebuilt Vienna State Opera, Nov. 5, 1955

James King (t), Florestan; Vienna Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein, cond. Live performance from the Vienna State Opera, June (9 or 14?), 1970

Jon Vickers (t), Florestan; Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Otto Klemperer, cond. Testament, recorded live, Feb. 24, 1961


Florestan's monologue, part 2:
"In des Lebens Frühlingstagen" ("In the spring days of life")



Julius Patzak (t), Florestan; Vienna Philharmonic, Wilhelm Furtwängler, cond. Live performance from the Salzburg Festival, Aug. 3, 1948

Plácido Domingo (t), Florestan; Staatskapelle Berlin, Daniel Barenboim, cond. Teldec, recorded 1999

Jon Vickers (t), Florestan; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Karl Böhm, cond. Live performance, Feb. 13, 1960


Florestan's monologue, part 3:
"Und spür' ich nicht" ("And do I not feel")



Peter Anders (t), Florestan; Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Ferenc Fricsay, cond. Broadcast performance, Nov. 6, 1951

Peter Seiffert (t), Florestan; Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, cond. Teldec, recorded in Graz, June 1994

Jon Vickers (t), Florestan; Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan, cond. Live performance, May 25, 1962


FINALLY, LET'S HEAR THE COMPLETE SCENE


Jon Vickers (t), Florestan; Berlin Philharmonic, Herbert von Karajan, cond. EMI, recorded 1970

Jon Vickers (t), Florestan; Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Klemperer, cond. EMI, recorded Feb.-Mar. 1962

Ben Heppner (t), Florestan; Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis, cond. BMG, recorded 5/15-25/1995


RETURN TO THE BEGINNING OF THE POST
#

Labels: ,

Saturday, May 11, 2002

[5/11/2012] Preview: Put these two little orchestral excerpts together, and you'll know the subject of Sunday's post (continued)

>

Yes, you can click to enlarge.


LET'S START WITH EXCERPT 2

It's an exceedingly brief moment of lyrical repose from, of course, the Beethoven overture we know as Leonore No. 3. As I mentioned, we've heard the piece before, and since I like the performances we've already heard, I thought we'd bring them back for an encore hearing. Our excerpt begins at about 0:32 of the Walter performance, 0:37 of the Leinsdorf.

BEETHOVEN: Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72a


Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Bruno Walter, cond. Live performance, Feb. 22, 1941

Philharmonia Orchestra, Erich Leinsdorf, cond. Capitol/EMI, recorded c1958


NOW HERE'S EXCERPT 1 AGAIN, ONLY (AS PROMISED)
TAKEN A BIT FARTHER -- AND WITH A BRIEF BONUS


Excerpt 1, extended version (with bonus second track)
[track 1]
God! What darkness here!
O dreadful silence!
[track 2]
In the springtime of life
good fortune fled from me.
Truth I dared to speak unafraid,
and these chains are my reward!

Reiner Goldberg, tenor; Staatskapelle Dresden, Bernard Haitink, cond. Philips, recorded November 1989


IN THIS WEEK'S SUNDAY CLASSICS POST --

In case you haven't worked it out, we're going to be focusing on the full version of Excerpt 1.


RETURN TO THE BEGINNING OF THE POST
#

Labels: , , ,

Monday, May 06, 2002

Encores, part 1 -- Three legendary pianists (continued)

>


SVIATOSLAV RICHTER (1915-1997)
(45 at the time of this December 1960 recital)

There haven't been many cases of a musician taking the U.S. by storm the way Sviatoslav Richter did when he finally arrived in 1960, with an elaborate series of solo recitals at Carnegie Hall. Columbia Masterworks recorded a number of those concerts live, for some reason in mono, and released a bunch of LPs drawn from them, which became among the most coveted piano records of all time -- though the artist himself doesn't seem to have been so thrilled, which is apparently why they've never been issued.

It happens that Columbia's chief U.S. rival, RCA Red Seal, also recorded (in stereo!) one of the Carnegie Hall recitals, and one in Newark as well, with the same program but different encores. Some selections from the Carnegie Hall program were released, but otherwise those precious tapes languished in the vaults until the Carnegie Hall recital (with the separate Newark encores thrown in) was issued in 2001 in BMG's invaluable "reDISCOVERED" series.

At Carnegie Hall the encores consisted of 10 of Sergei Prokofiev's Op. 22 Visions fugitives. We're going to hear the Newark encores.

1. PROKOFIEV: Cinderella Suite, Op. 95, No. 2, Gavotte
2. Visions fugitives, Op. 22: No. 4, Animato

3. DEBUSSY: Preludes, Book I: No. 5, "Les Collines d'Anacapri" ("The Hills of Anacapri")


CHOPIN: Études, Op. 10:
4. No. 10 in A-flat;
5. No. 12 in C minor (Revolutionary)
.
6. Mazurka in C, Op. 24, No. 2



Sviatoslav Richter, piano. RCA/BMG, recorded live in the Mosque Theater, Newark, Dec. 28, 1960


VLADIMIR HOROWITZ (1903-1989)
(72 at the time of this November 1975 recital)


Producer Jon Samuels explains in a note for the 2003 "reDISCOVERED" release of this November 1975 recital at Carnegie Hall, when Horowitz returned to his old record company, RCA, in 1975, the company undertook a whole host of recordings of live performances all over the place, concerned about being able to get him to make enough studio recordings. Those tapes went unreleased, though, and Samuels provides a vivid account of the difficulty of, first, finding the separated tapes of this concert, and then getting them into releasable condition.

We've already heard Horowitz play Schumann's "Träumerei," possibly his favorite encore piece, and a favorite of many other soloists -- and not just pianists. (Arrangements have been made for just about every instrument under the sun.) This is one of his less dragged-out accounts, but it's still cast in the rhythmically tortured form the pianist clearly thought was the way to play this lovely little "dream" piece. Not much to my taste, but I find the unfussy strength of the Debussy "Serenade" utterly irresistible, and the Moszkowski and Rachmaninoff -- well,

1. DEBUSSY: Children's Corner: No. 3, "Serenade of the Doll"

2. SCHUMANN: Kinderszenen (Scenes of Childhood), Op. 15: No. 7, "Träumerei"

3. MOSZKOWSKI: Morceaux caracteristiques (Characteristic Pieces), Op. 36: No. 6, "Étincelles" ("Sparks")

4. RACHMANINOFF: Étude-Tableau in D, Op. 39, No. 9



Vladimir Horowitz, piano. RCA/BMG, recorded live in Carnegie Hall, Nov. 16, 1975


ARTHUR RUBINSTEIN (1887-1982)
(74 in 1961, when most of these recordings were made)

With his 1961 remake of the Grieg Piano Concerto spilling over onto a second LP side, Arthur Rubinstein filled out that side with a selection of five of his favorite encores. The artist's tribute to the concerto recording reproduced on the jacket front (you can click to enlarge) was of particular interest to me for the signature, in which he clearly spelled his name "Arthur," the original Polish spelling (though the "h" didn't figure in the pronunciation). It was the first indication I was aware of that Rubinstein disliked the Germanized spelling adopted by his international managements, an especially touchy issue in the wake of the Third Reich for a Polish Jew. (I'm still mystified by the continued use of the "Artur" spelling.)

Even though these five pieces were clearly conceived as a group, the powers that be decided to split them up when it came to the massive Rubinstein Collection. I've got only the Falla and Prokofiev on CD, and my LP isn't on the shelf. (I think I once took it down intending to dub the encores, and I have vague recollections of the unrefiled LP suffering disintegration, possibly due to my misimpression that this was a duplicate copy I had acquired at one point. For the Liszt and Villa-Lobos I've substituted different CD performances that I do have (dipping back to 1950 for the former), and I believe this Schumann Romance is the one from this set. I don't recall the sequence of the LP; I've followed that of the jacket front.

Note that in this particular selection, some of my favorite Rubinstein recordings, the choices are weighted toward the upbeat and virtuosic. Of course Rubinstein could ravish the listener as few pianists have ever been able to, as he shows in the Schumann Romance.

1. FALLA: El Amor brujo (Love the Magician): "Ritual Fire Dance"
2. LISZT: Valse oubliée No. 1
3. SCHUMANN: Romance in F-sharp, Op. 28, No. 2
4. PROKOFIEV: The Love for Three Oranges, Op. 33: March
5. VILLA-LOBOS: Prole do bebê (Baby's Family), Vol. I: No. 7, "O Polichinelo" ("Polichinelle," or "Punch")



Arthur Rubinstein, piano. RCA/BMG, recorded in New York, Mar. 23, 1961 (except Liszt, recorded Dec. 1950; Villa-Lobos, recorded live in Carnegie Hall, Oct. 30, 1961)


STILL TO COME IN OUR ENCORE SERIES . . .

As noted, even apart from the fascinating (and vast) subject of vocal encores, we've still got a lot of other instruments to scope out encore-wise. Schedule to be determined.


RETURN TO THE BEGINNING OF THE POST
#

Labels: , , , , , ,