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Columna Musica

Valse Café
Anatol LIADOV (1855-1914)
The Musical Snuff Box Op.32 [1.58]
A. SCHULZ-EVLER (1854-1905)
Concert Arabesque on themes by Johann Strauss [12.31]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Waltz No.15 Op.39 [1.27]
Johannes STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
Frülingsstimmen Op. 410 (1883) – arranged by Ignaz FRIEDMAN (1882-1948) [10.40]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Soirée de Vienne No.7 arranged by Franz LISZT S427 (1852)(1811-1886) [6.21]
Soirée de Vienne No.6 arranged by Franz LISZT S427 (1852) (1811-1886)  [6.23]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
La plus que lente (1910) [4.22]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1927)
La Valse (1919-20) arranged by Miguel Baselga [11.28]
Miguel Baselga (piano)
rec. Auditorium de Zaragoza, July 2005
COLUMNA MÚSICA 1CM0144 [56.28]

According to the notes the rationale for this Golden Age confection is the Waltz, though not everything here qualifies as such. Rather than see it as a study in Viennese politesse leading to Ravelian subversion in one giant arc perhaps it’s better to consider the nature of the pianism. The Spanish pianist Miguel Baselga is certainly not afraid to subject his playing to the scrutiny of those with long memories in respect of pianistic titans, nor indeed is he afraid to commit his own arrangement of La Valse to the record. It makes for somewhat exhausting listening, though a recital without much intellectual gruel is not in itself especially damning.

The Musical Snuff Box is not often opened in our more ascetic times. Times were when Godowsky, Sapellnikoff, Rosenthal and their aristocratic peers would lace their recitals with it – and fortunately this elevated trio committed their performances to record (Godowsky complete with mechanical wind-up noises, no less). In comparison the newcomer is inclined to be a touch rigid – he doesn’t espouse their rubati – but of more concern is the piano’s action, which is almost as noisy as the box itself. The Schulz-Evler – I’m not sure why the notes divide him as if there were two of him – is the full version, that is not the cut-down version familiar from, say, Lhevinne’s performance on disc. Adherents of more recent masters such as Bolet, Cherkassky, Wild and Janis will admire this performance but not be shifting allegiances; the rhythms could be punched out a touch more, though the technical resources displayed are formidable.

I can’t find many other recordings of Friedman’s arrangement of Frühlingsstimmen around at the moment – certainly none domestically (UK) – so this is a valuable contribution and combustibly if a touch heavily played. I enjoyed the oft-essayed Schubert-Liszt – Baselga reminds me more of De Greef in No.6 than Petri – rather more equable than blistering. The Ravel transcription is his own and not the Muraro as one might have expected if he were to essay something unusual. The playing is powerful and confidently assertive.

The recording quality is good without being outstanding; it certainly catches the piano action all too well. The notes are skimpy.

Jonathan Woolf


Columna Musica




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