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Edwin Fischer
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Piano Sonatas:-
No.8 in C minor Op.13 Pathétique
No.15 in D major Op.28
No.21 in C major Op.53 Waldstein
Edwin Fischer (piano)
Recorded live 1952-54
ARCHIPEL ARPCD 0216 [64.45]

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The most important thing to note about these recordings is that theyíre not commercial recordings but the live post-War traversals that have been released before. The Pathétique was out on Orfeo Ė thereís also a set of 78s from 1938 and a post-War October 1952 EMI LP. The live Pastorale and Waldstein were once released on a Cetra LP back in the 1970s. They were all, I should advise you, released on a double CD set not so long ago by Music and Arts [CD880]. Nowhere however in Archipelís non-existent documentation do we learn the source material (they do at least spell out the dates of the performances and that they were live). These recordings were actually made in 1952 and 1954 by Bavarian Radio where, presumably, the original tapes still reside. To judge by the heavily over-processed and murky sound this company hasnít had access to them.

The playing itself is imbued with all Fischerís fallible humanity. The Pathétique is serious, occasionally enlivened by some staccato phrasing and heavily masculine. Heís characteristically quite slow in the Adagio cantabile and maybe the left hand is inclined toward a non-rubato metricality here and there but the finale is strongly projected. The Pastorale isnít consistently successful because there are some technical problems in the long opening Allegro but thereís commensurate wit in the Andante and a strong finale. Despite a few negligible slips in the opening of the Waldstein we can hear Fischerís exceptional control at its fullest, though the high point is surely the intense slow movement. No one would claim that the Prestissimo conclusion to the work is a model of clarity but this is a tangible sense of rightness in his drive. Some people will find this indulgence of a worn technique over-generous but Fischerís all embracingness, to me, is far more important.

In view of the skimpy presentation and the veiled sound I think you should give this a miss.

Jonathan Woolf

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