Tahra continues its valuable celebration of the life and art of
Marcelle Meyer with this latest in the line of book-sized releases.
It contains two CDs with repertoire that ranges across Scarlatti
and Mozart, as one would expect, Beethoven – of whom she left
behind relatively few traces as an interpreter - and some august
compatriots and contemporaries. It adds up to a programme of breadth
and interest presented moreover in good quality broadcast sound.
Not only this but there is a full discography of Meyer by René
Quonten and some superbly reproduced full length photographs as
Of the Scarlatti sonatas
Kk72 L401 is new to her discography, whilst Kk466 L433 joins her
commercial disc of April 1955, Kk27 L449 joins a 78 of 1946 and
an LP of 1954 as does Kk380 L23. Kk446 L433 joins her commercial
LP of 1955 as the only two survivals of this sonata yet to emerge.
The Geneva acetates are in fine estate. Her playing of Scarlatti
was always superb – crisp, buoyant with strong contrasts. She
would not have recognised Horowitz’s way with Kk27 L449 with his
teasing, skittish vitesse.
Her Mozart is
represented here by three sonatas, the Adagio and the Fantasie.
Once again these are not necessarily unique examples of her
art on disc because K310 exists in a 78 from 1949. K281 and
K332 have both been issued in Coup d’archet’s LP releases.
The K540 Adagio was similarly released by Coup d’archet and
a 1949 78 performance also exists – Tahra and Coup d’archet’s
dates from 1956. The Fantasie once again has already appeared
on Coup d’archet. She certainly keeps K310’s central movement
singing at a forward moving tempo, less obviously affectionate
than others, perhaps, and in general her Mozart proves to
be robust and not at all shyly rococo. The same sonata’s opening
is in fact more Allegro than Allegro maestoso. K332’s opening
movement is phrased with tremendous romantic urgency; there’s
something almost aggressively insistent about the curve of
some of her Mozart playing that opens a new vista on her playing.
Very little of
her Beethoven survives. In addition to this performance of
the Emperor there’s a live 1957 performance of the
Spring Sonata with Guido Mozzato and that’s it. This
of course makes this first ever release of the Concerto that
much more valuable. The performance was given live in 1956,
two years before Meyer’s death and is a persuasive but hardly
outstanding traversal. Meyer’s trills are fast and have a
pellucid quality, and she has the heft when necessary. The
slow movement is very limpid and lyric, pliant and gentle
but her finale is inclined to be heavy in places. Her chording
goes awry, though one can but admire her feathery articulation.
Andrae is a competent accompanist but the Suisse Romande’s
tuttis are opaque, partially a recording phenomenon perhaps.
The rest of this
second disc is all pleasure. She made a treasurable commercial
recording of all ten of Chabrier’s Pieces pittoresques
but the two here are characteristically pert and witty.
The Petrassi, otherwise unrecorded by her, alternates between
gravity and vigour, and the Poulenc is full of frivolous charm
(and similarly unrecorded commercially). Casella’s cryptic
Bach tributes end the recital and are also the only extant
evidence of her playing of them.
Uneven in part,
though that only in a matter of degree, this is still a most
valuable contribution to Meyer’s musicianship. The discography
and superb production values only enhance its desirability