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Women at the Piano Volume 3
Sandro FUGA (1906-1994)
Studio No 1 [1:39]
Annarosa Taddei (piano) rec. 1950
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Studies, Op. 104b - No 2 in F (1834) [3:21]
Annie d’Arco, rec. 1951
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
English Suites, BWV806- No.3 in G minor - Gigue [1:18]
Rosalyn Tureck (piano) rec. 1936
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Moments musicaux, D780 - No. 5 in F minor [2:40]
Ethel Leginska (piano) rec. 1928
Leopold GODOWSKY (1870-1938
Triakontameron – Book III - Alt Wien (Old Vienna) [2:06]
Isabelle Yalkovsky (piano)
Béla BARTÓK  (1881-1945) 
Mikrokosmos, Book 6, Sz107 - Dance in Bulgarian rhythm 1 [1:59]
Maro Ajemian (piano) rec. 1947
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
Poem about Stalin “Song of the Ashug”; Chant du Mirza (1937-38) [4:12]
Gisèle Kuhn (piano)
Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915)
Etudes Op. 65 - No. 1 in B flat major “Etude in Ninths” [3:27]
Ida Krehm (piano) rec. 1942
Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992)
Les sons impalpables du Rêve (Prelude No.5) [3:41]
Yvonne Loriod (piano)
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Le Tombeau de Couperin – Toccata [3:51]
Phyllis Sellick (piano) rec. 1940
 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Andante favori in F, WoO57 (1803) [7:52]
Elly Ney (piano) recorde1938
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Waltzes - Op. 18 No.1 in E flat major [4:23]
Halina Czerny-Stefanska (piano) rec. 1949
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Sonata (un piccolo divertimento: Variations) in F minor, HobXVII/6 [6:04]
Clara Haskil (piano) rec. 1934
Antonio SOLER (1729-1783)
Sonatas for Keyboard - No. 2 in C sharp minor [5:29]
Felicja Blumental  (piano) rec. 1952
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Goyescas - El fandango de Candil [6:59]
Frieda Valenzi (piano) rec. 1951
Manuel INFANTE (1883-1958)
Guadalquivir (Étude Pittoresque) [5:25]
Amparo Iturbi (piano) rec. 1949
Gian Francesco MALIPIERO (1882-1973)
Poemi asolani – No.3 I partenti (1916) [4:46]
Helen Schnabel (piano) rec. 1953
Riccardo PICK-MANGIAGALLI
La Ronda d' Aprile
Vera Francheschi (piano) rec. 1947
Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943)

Morceaux de salon, Op. 10 - No. 4; Melodie in E minor [4:12]
Nadia Reisenberg (piano) rec. 1954
Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Trois Pièces – Toccata (1931)
Livia Rév (piano) rec. 1947
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.111217 [78:17]



There are a number of things to be said about this third volume in Naxos’s series and few of them are positive. I realise that some have expressed an ab initio objection to the whole idea of a “women only” series such as this and for well-argued reasons. I don’t especially mind. An equally well-grounded argument may concern the brief and transitory nature of the salutes, if that’s how we should phrase it, to these particular musicians. Each has one track; some last barely a minute, others two or three. Given that many are obscure and were recorded on less well known record labels there is a real argument for suggesting that certain musicians should have been taken out of this context and their entire discographies presented for the first time on CD. That would form a concrete basis on which to consider their contribution. Naturally that is not the aim of the series, which is to anthologise women pianists – in a way that some apparently consider distasteful.
 
But what I actually consider distasteful is my old bête noir, terrible transfers. If you go to the trouble of digging up Frieda Valenzi’s 1951 Remington or Helen Schnabel’s c.1953 Malipiero on SPA or Livia Rév’s c.1947 Standard Program Library Poulenc you should at least preserve the particular tonal and timbral qualities that distinguish these pianists and their recordings. But, as before, the producers make a fetish of announcing – read this carefully to understand the full implications – “Great care is being lavished on making this endeavour a seamless listening experience, by matching the acoustical quality of the various pianos used in so many different venues.” Let me translate that; these recordings have been equalized out of existence. As the recordings span the many years between 1928 and 1954 the resulting blancmange is a travesty of the original recordings and the “seamless listening experience” is nothing less than a total abrogation of the transfer engineer’s art.
 
It is indeed a triumph of sorts to render so many recordings, recorded over so many years, equally muddy and undifferentiated. So I’m afraid there’s no incentive for me to comment on the pianists themselves very much; Valenzi is lumpy and accident prone in Granados, d’Arco is pedestrian in Mendelssohn; Krehm’s is apparently the first recording of this Scriabin etude; Sellick, recently deceased, is good in Ravel; Leginska is disappointing once again – the Ivory Classics transfer of this is better but still not good; the American Columbia would sound decent if a competent engineer got his hands on it; Amparo Iturbi impresses as she often does; Kuhn honours the fatuous Khachaturian piece; the egregious Elly Ney gives some life to Beethoven in the days before she ground to a halt; Czerny-Stefanska  is heard in one of her 1949 London Chopin discs; Haskil is represented by an early 1934 one; Francheschi is scintillating in a vapid piece.
 
So, interesting pieces, obscure pianists among the big names, and some unusual record labels. You can argue about the concept until the cows come home but I can assure you of one fact; these transfers, and the rationale behind them, are truly awful.
 
Jonathan Woolf

The following comments have been received from Marina and Victor Ledin:


When we proposed this series covering the two hundred plus pioneering women pianists, Naxos requested that we select "encore" pieces. We are doing so on each volume. Not all women pianists recorded the rare piano miniatures we sprinkle throughout. Also, many women pianists left a small recorded legacy and the choices are to be made from only a handful of discs. Thus, it has been made clear from the beginning that this anthology is meant to be a long overdue historic "sampler" of their artistry, not a final word on either their artistry or their repertoire selection.

When we create these volumes we pay meticulous attention to every element of the musical progression - including key signatures, textural changes from track to track, as well as composer and style balances.

Additionally, on every disc, we have endeavored to showcase the pianists and engage the listener by strategically utilizing many different combinations and track orders. We purposely do this in order to keep each successive volume "fresh" for the buyer/listener, while simultaneously staying connected to the series theme overall.

Mr. Woolf, is completely wrong when he states that these recordings have been equalized out of existence. Equalization throughout the entire album was minimal to non-existent.

The Valenzi, Schnabel and Rev discs had quiet surfaces and required only "declick" from a CEDAR standpoint. (We thought these recordings were a bit tubby on the originals.) A number of other tracks on Vol.3 were actually straight transfers with no CEDAR used (for example, Track 1). Additionally, CEDAR restoration is actually not an equalization effect at all.




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