Hungarian cello concertos

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Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI (1860-1941)
Minuet in G Op.14 – Book 1 No.1 (1887-88) [3.44]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Piano Sonata No.14 in C sharp minor Op.27 No.2 Moonlight (1801) – First Movement [4.55]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)

La Campanella (etude d’exécution transcendante d’après Paganini) S140 No.3 in A flat minor (1838) [4.51]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Impromptu in A flat D935 No.2 [4.55]
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Etude in E Op.10 No.3 (1829-32) [3.58]
Etude in G flat Black Keys Op.10 No.5 (1829-32) [2.00]
Nocturne in E flat Op.9 No.2 (1830-31) [3.49]
Valse Brillante in E flat Op.18 (1831) [4.53]
Mazurka in C sharp minor Op.63 No.3 (1846) [2.06]
Etude in C minor Revolutionary Op.10 No.12 (1829-32) [2.32]
Nocturne in E sharp Op.15 No.2 (1830-31) [3.28]
Polonaise in E flat minor Op.26 No.2 (1834-35) [7.10]
Prelude in D flat Raindrop Op.28 No.15 (1836-39)
Prelude in A flat Op.28 No.17 (1836-39) [3.59]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Waldszenen – The Prophet Bird (Vogl als Prophet) Op.83 No.7 [3.37]
Zygmunt STOJOWSKI (1870-1946)

By the Brookside [2.26]
Chant d’Amour Op.26 No.3 [4.04]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

Reflets dans l’eau (Images, Set I) (1905) [4.15]
Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894)

Valse Caprice in E flat 91870) [4.42]
Ignacy Jan Paderewski (piano)
Recorded 1926-30
LIVING ERA AJC 8555 [77.16]

There are rather less Paderewski compilations available at the moment than you might think. Pearl did sterling work for him back in the LP era and to an extent now. Other labels have produced their own releases but there needs to be a comprehensive, newly transferred chronological sequence – by Marston, perhaps or APR or Naxos. Living Era have now added him to their roster of artists and provided Leschetitzky’s most famous pupil with renewed visibility, and audibility, for his electric discs. Their scope is a roughly four-year sequence from May 1926 to December 1930.

Though the disc is entitled Minuet and other favourites we can note that he plays the opening movement (only) of Beethoven C sharp minor sonata (Moonlight) as well as two Chopin Nocturnes and three Etudes, all from Op.10; there are also two of the most famous Preludes from Op.28. So whilst the programme is certainly popular it’s not at all frivolous or unduly light. Paderewski was a formidable technician on his best days, for all the criticism. That said it would be idle to pretend that the post-1925 electrics show him at his finest – for that one needs his acoustics.

His own Minuet, the piece that gives the disc its title, is full of its composer’s calibrated rubati, and leonine drama in the left hand and makes a perfectly stylish start to the recital, which is in effect what this is – it’s in no sense a chronological survey and splits sessions asunder in the interests of variety. No, the Beethoven doesn’t seem to probe very deeply perhaps and the characteristically non-synchronous chording that is so much a feature of the Liszt is very much an aspect of technique of pianists of his generation and one that will be rather troubling to those unfamiliar with it. The Prophet Bird however is charmingly done and his fellow Pole Stojowski’s Chant d’amour whilst a touch over-decorated is characterised splendidly.

In his Chopin series rhythm can be a casualty of de-synchronous chording and over-romanticised expression. Textual peculiarities abound as well, Paderewski being very much a nineteenth century editorialising-virtuoso (try the rhetorical Op.10 No.3 Etude) and extreme rubati cause the Nocturne in E flat to curl up its toes – at least it did to these ears. It was pretty extreme even for 1930. Caesurae and impeded rhythm rather do for the otherwise wittily pointed Valse Brillante but there’s bracing virtue to be found in the brisk opening of the Raindrop Prelude.

Paderewski the pianist has often been taken for granted. It’s true that the earlier sequences of recordings he made reveal a musician of greater technical capacity and powerfully communicative power. To start with Paderewski you will need to start there, despite the obviously more primitive sound. The electrics offer only partial and qualified glimpses, some still lordly it’s true, into his musicianship. But they’ve been well transferred here – not state of the art I have to say, but sympathetically.

Jonathan Woolf



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