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Edwin Fischer joue et dirge Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Piano Concerto No.20 K466
Concerto for Two Pianos K365 +
Symphony No.40 in G minor K550
Orchestre Municipal de Strasbourg
Edwin Fischer (piano and conductor)
Harry Datyner (piano) +
Recorded live at the Strasbourg Festival, 12 June 1953
TAHRA TAH 534 [78.14]


Old wine, new bottle. We last heard these performances, taken down on acetates at the 1953 Strasbourg Festival, in Music and Artsí big 6 CD Fischer box. The D minor was a Fischer favourite and his humanity and understanding illumine every performance of it that we possess. His 1954 commercial recording of it (Philharmonia/Krips) is on Testament and itís to that performance that those unversed in his intimacy and poetry should turn Ė not least because the live performance here is very dimly recorded. And yet for those prepared to listen beyond the constricted sound, and beyond Fischerís occasional and obvious digital fallibility, the lessons to be learned are incalculable.

High amongst them are Fischerís sense of cantabile phrasing and the impassioned vocalisation, almost operatic power, he finds in K466. He fuses the intimacies and declamatory brilliance in a single emotionally cogent, intellectually rigorous arch, and his sensitively humorous playfulness has its true place in the first movement exchanges. The power of the first movement meets the subtly hued distillations of the Romance, full of Ė despite the unfavourable recording quality Ė gloriously persuasive lyricism, that renders incidental Fischerís slips. Similarly, though to a lesser degree, he brings to K365 a sense of high-spirited clarity and comradely generosity. His partner is Harry Datyner, a fine musician and an apt foil for Fischer. True, not all the runs they make are synchronous but there is a commendable sense of unity and uniformity about their performance that never precludes imaginative individuality.

Unfettered, as it were, by the piano Fischer the conductor gives full vent to his powers of direction in the G minor Symphony. This is a strong and stern reading, quite big boned in the first movement with little gliding portamanti in the second that point to the Adagio-like tempo that Fischer favoured over the written Andante. Here his shaping of the wind themes is immaculate and truly sensitive, whilst the finale is powerful and convulsive. The orchestra is hardly a model of precision engineering but itís enthusiastic.

Given the provenance of these discs Ė Tahra note that the acetates needed "extensive restoration" - this is for specialists, and for those who havenít already acquired that M and A set (with more Mozart, some Brahms and a lot of welcome Fischer Bach).

Jonathan Woolf


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