Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett



Solomon (piano)

Sonata in F minor L384
Joseph HAYDN

Sonata in D major Hob.XVI/37 (1780)
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Sonata in C major Op. 2 No. 3 (1794-95)
Sonata in C minor Op. 111 (1822)
Sonatina from a Sonata in F major WoO 50 (c1790-92)
Solomon (piano)
Recorded London 1946-48
PEARL GEM 0038 [69.37]


Pearl’s Piano Masters series, an extensive and entertaining collection, now reaches Solomon. The recordings are plum label HMVs from 1946-48 and find him at his peak. We begin with the little Scarlatti, recorded in fine, forward sound and one of his favourites, played with patrician wit. The Haydn D major sonata, the one that used to be called No. 37, receives a reading of effortless brio. There’s energy in his very much con brio reading of the first movement but great refinement as well. The slither of a Largo e sostenuto however is graced by glorious shades of chordal weight, by diminuendi, verticality and an almost organ-like sonority and concentrated seriousness. It shows precisely how a musician of his incomparable depth can fuse the active and passive in music making, as he equally demonstrates in the presto finale – where clarity and élan are held in equipoise.

When we reach Beethoven we come to the F major Sonatina, all lightness and filigree, and the C major Sonata Op. 2 No. 3. This, with the Scarlatti, was in Solomon’s repertoire for his American tour of 1949 and was repertoire with which he felt entirely at home. The coda of the opening Allegro con brio is full of surging passion, the slow movement touched with simplicity, gravity and apposite colour, with Solomon everywhere showing a true command of sforzati. Digital clarity in the finale is accompanied by effortless control – at least it sounds effortless – and commanding left hand. The C minor is one of his great interpretations. In the first movement his range of colour and powerful attacks are potent enough, even without the extraordinary sense of power held in check, the deeply sensitive seriousness, and the withdrawn, stoic depth. To this extent he manages to fuse and to bind the Maestoso first movement with the Arietta second, finding in the opening movement a never static but necessarily considered seriousness, even in the appassionato drive. As for the Arietta, the range of tonal shading, command and conception still seem to me to be one of the greatest things that even this great artist bequeathed posterity. The tempo as such is relatively relaxed but temporal considerations seem almost academic when confronted by playing that holds the music in one long unbroken span and that vests in it such profound understanding devoid of technical encumbrance.

The planned cycle of Beethoven sonatas was, as we know, never to materialise. Solomon did re-record the Op. 2 No. 3 in the early 1950s but it never appeared, leaving the one in this set to stand on its own. Pearl have, in effect, replicated to a degree a Solomon recital (which would probably have begun with a Bach-Liszt and included some Chopin). Roger Beardsley’s transfers retain some surface noise without at all compromising higher frequencies – and Solomon’s tonal gradations and deep beauty are heard in all their unselfconscious glory.

Jonathan Woolf



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