A magnificent testimony to the often sublime
artistry of Annie Fischer. Caught here in the studio, these
recordings (spanning thirteen years) remind us of Fischer’s
innate musicality, her respect for the composers she chose to
present, and above all her artistic integrity.
The Haydn (actually a set of double variations,
with the F minor theme alternating with an F major one) is an
object lesson in poise. Her touch is pearly - especially the
repeated notes - textures are light and flourishes and trills
are full of fantasy. Listen to the decoration at around 4’45
which in many other hands would emerge as finicky – here it
is so neatly and convincingly done. Yet there is drama here
too as the F minor key signature might imply.
The first Beethoven work is the famous Op. 27 No. 2.
The first movement carries all the effectiveness of a refusal
to sentimentalise. Clarity, unhurried flow and structural integrity
go hand-in-hand to memorable effect. Fischer’s touch in the
middle Allegretto is gorgeous. The timbral subtleties are excellently
carried by the recording, with only slight – and undistracting
– hiss. The finale is exciting - with some wrong notes - and
rises to true drama in its later stages.
Accuracy is similarly in second place in the Chopin Third
Scherzo’s rapid-fire octaves, but the convincing contrasts between
the sections more than make up for this. The famous cascades
of notes are never merely decorative, but an integral part of
the ongoing argument. Chords have great depth and, indeed, Fischer
is at her best in the nightmarish harmonic shifts. A pity, then,
that the coda tends towards the careful. Caution is introduced
to the wind without actually being thrown anywhere, one might
Great to see the Beethoven C minor Variations here, its
craggy theme providing the imposing starting point for a tour-de-force,
both compositionally and pianistically. Fischer’s repeated notes
are superbly articulated, her use of pedal clearly very considered.
Most importantly, taken as a whole this piece makes complete
structural sense, textural contrasts having a clear place in
the overall scheme, leading to a tremendous climax at around
But not as superb as the Kodály. Here Fischer is on home
ground. The piano version predates the orchestral version, and
Fischer treats it as if it could never be elsewhere than at
the keyboard. The sense of national identification is tremendous,
right from the hugely sonorous opening. And the music actually
does dance, exploding into infectious joy.
The Mozart that concludes the recital is perhaps less
dramatic-confrontational than some, true, but just listen to
Fischer’s treatment o the development’s harmonic surprises for
evidence of her Mozartian affinity.
The slow movement becomes a supreme place of rest, magnificent
in its simplicity, awe-inspiring in its sense of breadth. The
finale is almost orchestral at times. It is impossible not to
get swept away by Fischer’s playing, in any of the works on
this disc. Possibly she is at her greatest in the Kodály and
the Mozart, but without doubt Fischer’s many admirers will find
much to enthral throughout.