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A Tribute to Gerald Moore
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) a,b,c

La Partenza, K 436* [2’22"]
Più non si trovano, K549 [1’47"]
Franz SCHUBERT (1707-1828) c

Der Einsame, D800* [4’07"]
Nachtviolen, D752 [2’59"]
Abschied (Schwanengesang, D957, No. 7) [3’05"]
Im Abendrot, D799 [5’00"]
GioachiNo. ROSSINI (1792-1868) a,b

La regatta veneziana (Serate musicali, No. 9) [4’50"]
La pesca (Serate musicali No. 10) [3’52"]
Duetto buffo di due gatti [3’11]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) a

Sapphische Ode, Op. 94, No. 4* [2’20"]
Der Gang zum Liebchen, Op. 48, No. 1 [1’29"]
Vergeblisches Ständchen, Op. 84, No. 4 [1’42"]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) b,c

In der Nacht, Op. 74, No. 4* [4’39"]
Ich denke dein, Op. 78, No. 3* [2’30"]
Tanzlied, Op. 78, No. 1 [2’29"]
Er und Sie, Op. 78, No. 2 [2’26"]
Hugo WOLF (1860-1903) b

Kennst du das Land? [6’48"]
Sonne der Schlummerlosen [2’42"]
Das verlassene Mägdlein [3’14"]
Die Zigeunererin [2’58"]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) a,c

Ich wollt meine Lieb, Op. 63, No. 1 [1’42"]
Gruss, Op. 63, No. 3 [2’22"]
Lied aus ‘Ruy Blas’, Op. 77, No. 3 [1’14"]
Abendlied [1’49"]
Wasserfahrt [1’24"]
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) a,b,c

An den Vetter, HobXXVb No. 1 [2’13"]
Daphnens einziger Fehler, HobXXVb, No. 2 [2’48"]
Speech by Gerald Moore [4’23"]
Franz SCHUBERT, ARR. Gerald Moore: An die Musik, D. 547 [1’35"]
Recorded at the Royal Festival Hall, London 20 February 1967
Joaquín NIN (1879-1949) a

Malagueña (Cantos populares españolas, No. 6 [2’36"]
Cristóbal HALFFTER (b. 1930) a

Panxoliña (Galician Folksong) [2’27"]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) d

SiciliaNo. (from Cantata BWV 29, transc. Donald C. Powell) [5’21"]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) c

Hochzeitlich Lied Op. 37, No. 6 [3’57"]
Weisser Jasmin, Op. 31 No. 3 [1’59"]
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) e

Variations on a theme from ‘Silvana’, J128 (Op. 33) [9’45"]
Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) f

Frühlingsmorgen (Lieder und Gesänge, No. 1) [1’47"]
Scheiden und Meiden (Lieder und Gesänge, No. 12) [2’49"]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) g

Élégie, Op.24 [6’41"]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) b

Träume (Wesendonck-Lieder, No. 5) [5’11"]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) h

Pièce en forme de habanera [2’51"]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) h

La fille aux cheveux de lin (Préludes, Book 1, No. 8, arr. Hartmann) [2’36"]
Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) i

Don Juan’s Serenade, Op. 38 No. 1 [2’46"]
Amid the din of the ball, Op. 38 No. 3 [3’18"]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) j

Slavonic Dance in G minor, B78 (op. 46) No. 8
a Victoria de los Angeles (soprano)
b Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano)
c Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)
d Leon Goossens (oboe)
e Gervase de Peyer (clarinet)
f Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano)
g Jacqueline du Pré (violoncello)
h Yehudi Menuhin (violin)
i Nicolai Gedda (tenor)
j Gerald Moore and Daniel Barenboim (piano duet, four hands)
Gerald Moore (piano)
Recording dates: a 16 December 1968; d 24 April 1969; c 22 June 1968; e, f and h 30 December 1968; g and j 1 April 1969; b 7 December 1962; i 2 April 1969
All recordings made at No 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London (except c at Gemeindehaus, Berlin-Zehlendorf)
Great Recordings of the Century series
EMI CLASSICS 7243 5 67990 2 8 [73’16"+70’16"]

 

EMI’s prestigious ‘Great Recordings of the Century’ series has featured a host of celebrated conductors, singers and instrumental virtuosi. Why, you may think, should an issue pay tribute to a "mere" accompanist? However, as I pointed out recently when comparing two recordings by Hans Hotter of Schubert’s Winterreise, a perceptive accompanist can make all the difference. In that instance, the perspicacious accompanist whose contribution to one of the two versions made it a clear winner, was Gerald Moore, the musician celebrated here.

It was Gerald Moore (1899-1987) who did more than anyone else to bring the accompanist out of the shadows and to establish his or her role in its proper place as a true partner of the recitalist. Graham Johnson is just one distinguished successor to have acknowledged his debt to Moore.

The present release assembles two handsome tributes which EMI paid to Moore. The whole of CD1 and the first four tracks of CD2 contain (for the first time in its entirety on CD, I believe) the farewell recital he gave at the Royal Festival Hall in 1967, an event masterminded by that doyen of programme building, Walter Legge, no less. The remaining 15 tracks on CD2 are taken from a studio-made LP issued in 1970 to celebrate Moore’s 70th birthday. I believe that these items too appear on CD for the first time. The Farewell Recital has been on CD at least once before (as "Gerald Moore, a Tribute" on CDC 7 49238 2). However that issue was incomplete as five items had to be excluded. I have marked these five with an asterisk in the heading to this review and I suspect they may now be making their CD debut.

To the surprise of many Moore chose to retire from the concert platform (though not from the recording studio) at the age of sixty-seven. Walter Legge devised this retirement tribute, uniting Moore for one last time with his three very favourite soloists. As John Steane tells us in the liner notes, the concert became, perhaps inevitably, a musical party and purchasers of this release should approach it on those terms.

With typically adroit planning, Legge allotted each singer a solo group and each also participated in duets. Thus we have Fischer-Dieskau magnificent in Schubert, de los Angeles equally impressive in Brahms and Schwarzkopf singing Wolf as only she could. They also combine in various partnerships. So we get the two ladies in Rossini (including the rather tiresome "Cat’s Duet", a piece which I feel only works, and then not always, as a pièce d’occasion in concerts when one can actually see the artists.) Schwarzkopf and Fischer-Dieskau combine memorably in Schumann and the baritone partners de los Angeles in the Mendelssohn group. The programme opens and closes with trios by Mozart and Haydn. Almost any admirer of these singers will wonder at the list of omissions. Why no Strauss from either Fischer-Dieskau or Schwarzkopf? Why no French or Spanish repertory from that great exponent of both, de los Angeles? The second disc partly rights that, and the exclusion of Strauss. Legge could have assembled a programme to reflect even more fully the mastery of these four artists, but only if the RFH had been willing to serve breakfast the next morning! What we have here is sufficient unto the day, I think.

In a review such as this it’s impossible to do justice to such a cornucopia of song. A few highlights must suffice. Fischer-Dieskau’s Schubert group will give much pleasure but ‘Im Abendrot’ (CD1, track 6) is an outstanding example of controlled, sustained singing. De los Angeles is enchanting in Brahms’s ‘Der Gang zum Liebchen’ (CD1, track 11) and deeply communicative in the same composer’s ‘Sapphische Ode’ (track 10). As for Schwarzkopf, she reserves her best for ‘Kennst du das Land?’ (CD1, track 17), a song which she always sang like no-one else. She must have sung this countless times with Moore; is it fanciful to detect an extra edge to the performance of this song of longing, sparked by the knowledge that this would be their last performance of it together, at least in public? I would also single out the delightful blend of de los Angeles and Fischer-Dieskau in ‘Ich wollt meine Lieb’ (CD1, track 21); indeed, their whole Mendelssohn group is beautifully done.

Each singer was clearly fired by the occasion. All were highly individual artists and the approach of both Schwarzkopf and Fischer-Dieskau could sometimes be controversial. However, here the presence of an audience and their desire to pay tribute to a much-loved and highly valued colleague inspires them to take artistic risks which they might not have done under studio conditions. Their risk-taking is vindicated.

At the end of the proceedings Moore’s short speech is elegant and from the heart. He then brings down the curtain on his concert hall career inimitably by playing, just for once, by himself. The choice? Music by his beloved Schubert in the shape of his own arrangement of ‘An die Musik’. Happily, applause has been edited out after this item.

There is an abundance of delights, too, among the studio recordings, almost all of which were made especially for the occasion. It is wonderful to hear de los Angeles sounding incomparable in two Spanish songs (CD2, tracks 5 and 6). Incidentally, a live performance of the Nín song is also included in her recently issued BBC Legends disc where, again, she is partnered by Moore. It’s also highly appropriate that Janet Baker, a singer greatly admired by Moore, should make an appearance in two fine items by Mahler (CD2, tracks 11 and 12). Schwarzkopf was not available to record anything for this collection. Instead EMI took from its vaults a wondrous, incandescent account of Wagner’s ‘Träume’ (CD2, track 14). There’s also a notable contribution from Nicolai Gedda who sings two Tchaikovsky items. The first, ‘Don Juan’s Serenade’ (CD2, track 17) is dashing and ringing but ’Amid the din of the ball’ (track 18), a subtle, withdrawn performance, really is something very special.

I haven’t mentioned the instrumentalists. Leon Goossens is splendidly fluent and articulate in Bach (CD2, track 7) and Gervase de Peyer despatches the Weber variations with relish and élan (CD2, track 10). For many, however, the pick of this particular bunch will be Jacqueline du Pré, whose lustrous tone graces Fauré’s sublime Élégie, making it even more a thing of beauty than is usual (CD2, track 13).

I must comment on the recorded sound. The studio items are, without exception, first class. The RFH recording may be a bit more controversial. The artists are recorded at a slight distance, something to which I found I adjusted quite quickly. However, it sounds as if the microphones were placed in or over the first few rows of the stalls. The consequence is that the applause, which follows every item, is very loud. You have been warned!

Sometimes in my reviews I’ve been critical of the accompanying documentation. Not this time. In fact, EMI have done Moore proud. All texts and translations are given in English, French and German (and the texts for the items in Russian and Spanish are also given in the original). There are also an unusually copious number of pictures of the artists. Finally, there is an affectionate and perceptive note by John Steane. This is written in his usual elegant and informed style so that the reading of the note is a pleasure in itself.

This issue features a large roster of distinguished musicians. Underpinning everything, however, is the artistry of one man. Every single track bears eloquent testimony to the art of Gerald Moore which was, of course, an art which concealed art. Time and again we find him illuminating little details but never to draw attention to himself. Always, rather, his aim is to enhance the performance of his soloists and to serve the music better. In particular he was a master of subtle rubato. As I put the finishing touches to this review I’m listening yet again to ‘Träume’. The accompaniment is by no means the most complex on this pair of CDs. In fact for quite a lot of the time he "just" supports the singer’s line with repeated, throbbing chords. Yet, listen carefully. Each one is precisely weighted and every bar evinces his master’s touch, not least in the tiny hesitations which, in themselves are such small things but which add immeasurably to our pleasure. Listen also to how he seems to breathe with his singer. What support! And how confident must it have made those soloists lucky enough to have been partnered by him.

This may not be a "Great Recording of the Century" in the sense that, say Furtwängler’s 1951 Bayreuth performance of Beethoven’s ‘Ninth’ is understood to be. However, this pair of discs fully justifies their inclusion in this series in celebration of a man who contributed so unobtrusively yet so tellingly to so many great recordings and performances during his career. This set contains nearly 2½ hours of pure pleasure. I welcome it with great delight and recommend it most strongly.

John Quinn

See Great Recordings of the Century

 

 



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