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Mischa Levitzki Complete Recordings - Volume 2
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Sonata No. 2 in G minor Op. 22
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)

Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat major S124
Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6 in D flat major S244
Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12 in C sharp minor S244
Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13 in A minor S244
Etude de Concert No. 3 in D flat major Un sospiro S144
Etude d’exécution transcendante d’après Paganini No. 3 in G sharp minor La Campanella S140 – and remake
Moritz MOSZKOWSKI (1854-1925)

La Jongleuse Op. 52/4
Mischa LEVITZKI (1898-1941)

Waltz in A major Valse amour Op. 2
Mischa Levitzki (piano)
London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Landon Ronald
Recorded 1927-33
NAXOS 8.110769 [78.33]

 

Clearly it was Levitzki’s increasingly successful performances and recordings that encouraged HMV to increase its commitment to his discography. Born in 1898 and a student of Alexander Michalowski at the Warsaw Conservatory Levitzki later settled in America where he studied with Sigismund Stojowski. In 1913 an initially distrustful von Dohnányi relented and took him on as a pupil at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik. His New York debut followed in 1916 and he made an extensive Australasian tour in 1921 followed closely by celebrity trips across Asia. He was one of the most fêted of the pianists popular in central Europe but his London debut had to wait until 1927 – and the first of his HMV discs followed soon after.

In 1929 he recorded the Liszt E flat major concerto with house accompanist Landon Ronald and the LSO. This was a recording notable for the forward sounding winds and for Levitzki’s zesty and triumphant passagework. In the opening movement there are opportunities to listen to the old style clarinet playing and to leader W.H. Reed’s solo playing as indeed there are in the Quasi Adagio where the tonal profile of the orchestra is decidedly old fashioned in sound. Levitzki meanwhile is full of drive and animation. A few years later he recorded the Schumann G minor Sonata (No. 2) – an attractive though not especially affectionate performance though one that does stress the intimate qualities of the music. His Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies are forthright and frequently brashly glittering. We’re fortunate that we get takes one and four of his 1928 La Campanella; the first take was originally selected but the pianist subsequently requested that take four should be used instead.

Horowitz always ran Levitzki down as an artisan ("awful…just fingers") but enough evidence exists to show that he was more than a mere technician. The transfers here are excellent and highlight Levitzki’s jewelled treble and that fabulous trill in the slow movement of the Liszt.


Jonathan Woolf


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