Reclamation of pianist
Felicja Blumentalís legacy continues
apace. I associate her, on record at
least, with a kind of discographic bridge
spanning from Hoffmeister and Clementi
to Villa-Lobos and beyond. Brana does
for her here pretty much what Ivory
Classics has been doing for other distinguished
pianists and thatís all to the good.
And if this disc doesnít quite conjure
up quite such anticipation itís because
one might have preferred one of Blumentalís
other pianistic disinterments to a reading,
however grand and spacious, of Beethovenís
Iím a little confused
about her discography in general. She
recorded the cycle of Beethoven Concertos
with the capable Robert Wagner, a series
available in the 1960s on LP and claimed
to be, if my memoryís right, by the
Innsbruck Symphony Orchestra. Here Brana
ascribe it as the Vienna Symphony, in
a recording made in Innsbruck in 1962
Ė so presumably the earlier set was
flying under a flag of geographical
convenience in the way so many small
label discs did. Itís a big-boned and
quite slow reading with solid string
entries, a sensitive shaping of the
slow movement and a powerful cadenza.
The Hoffmeister meanwhile is echt Mozartian.
Unlike the big band Mozart we have the
lean sound of the Prague Chamber Orchestra
under Alberto Zedda. All the graces
are here, with a Mannheim crescendo,
delicious key modulations and finely
etched Ė perhaps rather too vertiginous
- diminuendos, and a lyrical curve.
The slow movement is songfully pensive
and the finale one of those Haydnesque
japes that sound like variations on
ĎTwinkle twinkle little starí Ė and
laced with decorative rococo fun.
The sound is rather
unsubtle in the Beethoven and is inclined
to a degree of coldness in the Hoffmeister
but Brana has done well to rid the disc
of extraneous LP detritus. There is,
in truth, little more that they could
have done to aerate these recordings.
Itís certainly good to have Blumentalís
sensitive musicianship back in the catalogue.