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Heinrich Neuhaus. From the Archives
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Polonaise-Fantasia Op. 61 in A flat major
Mazurka Op. 56 No. 1 in B minor
Mazurka Op. 41 No. 2 in E minor
Mazurka Op. 63 No. 3 in C sharp minor
Mazurka Op. 63 No. 2 in F minor
Mazurka Op. 59 No. 1 in A minor
Mazurka Op. 56 No. 3 in C minor
Mazurka Op. 50 No. 3 in C sharp minor
Nocturne Op. 55 No. 1 in F minor
Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915)

Two Poems Op. 61
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

Danseuses de Delphes (Preludes Book I No. 1)
Les Collines díAnacapri (Preludes Book I No. 5)
La Sérénade interrompue (Preludes Book I No. 9)
Bruyères (Preludes Book I No. 17)
Recorded 1940s
PREISER PR 95002 [50.03]


Heinrich Neuhaus (1888-1964) never had much of a concert career (he suffered from bad stage fright) and made his reputation as a teacher. Heís thus fated always to be noted as Richterís master but the list of his other pupils is not short of distinguished names; Emil Gilels, Radoslav Kvapil, Radu Lupu, Stanislav Neuhaus and Igor Zhukov amongst many. Neuhausí pedigree was impeccable. Born in Elisavetgrad he was himself a pupil of the distinguished Michałowski and later studied in Vienna with Godowsky. He was later still a professor at the Moscow Conservatory from 1922 until his death. Worth mentioning also is the little matter of his being the cousin of Blumenfeld and distant cousin of Szymanowski.

Iím no expert on Neuhaus discographically so should mention that Preiser note these rather murky sounding 78s as having been recorded "in the 1940s". Though not a soloist as such he did make records and this selection gives one a reasonable over-view of his sensibility and also his repertoire, because he was selective as to what he played. His Scriabin alas is confined to the Two Poems Op. 61, tiny slivers of pieces, and the bulk focuses on his Chopin and Debussy. Of the former he lavishes most time on the Mazurkas and itís instructive to see what he makes of them in relation to a contemporary such as Rubinstein. In general Neuhaus is quicker and rhythmically tighter, with less rubati and fewer inflexions. In the B minor his rhythm is less sprung and heís perhaps less steady as well, whereas in the E minor (Op. 41 No. 2) he shows few of Rubinsteinís little intimacies preferring instead a straighter and more determined trajectory. In the C sharp minor from the Op. 63 set his urgency and emotive pull contrasts with Rubinsteinís more delicate refinement Ė the characterisation is entirely distinctive in both these performances and profoundly different.

Neuhaus tends to etch the Mazurkas more graphically and can also be more unsettled and unsettling (see the C minor Op. 56/3 for an explicit example) whereas Rubinsteinís more relaxed tempi enable him to exploit maximal contrasts of material. In the main Neuhausís directness is a characteristic of his Chopin pianism. In Debussy similarly he tends to be colouristically less demonstrative than say Michelangeli and rather more linear. In Les Collines díAnacapri for example whilst full of drama in Neuhausí recording, comparison with the younger Italian will show contrasts, fissures and visceral dynamism that Neuhaus barely hints at. Nevertheless one can only but profit from listening to Neuhaus.

The recordings sound rather muddy and congested. No transfer engineer or process is noted and Iím not sure if these were transferred from 78 or from a subsequent LP transfer, though they may reflect the boxy acoustic of the Moscow studio all too well. I have a feeling they could be opened out with advantage.

Jonathan Woolf



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