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Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

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Hommage à Marcelle Meyer
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
Sonata L433 Kk446 [3.44]; Sonata L401 Kk72 [2.06]; Sonata L23 Kk380  [2.58]; Sonata L449 Kk27 [6.54]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Sonata No.8 K310 [12.50]; Adagio K340 [5.56]; Sonata No.3 K281 [13.45]; Fantasie K396 [7.32]; Sonata No.12 K332 [13.04]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat major Op.73 Emperor (1809) [35.51] *
Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841-1894)
Pieces pittoresques: No.1 Paysage [4.58]; No.9 Menuet pompeux [5.38]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Pour les tierces (Etudes Book I No.2) [3.49]
Goffredo PETRASSI (1904-2003)
Toccata (1933) [6.38]
Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Two Novelletes [3.11]
Alfredo CASELLA (1883-1947)
Ricercare sul nome Bach Op.51 No.1 [3.11]; Ricercare sul nome Bach Op.51 No.2 [1.45]
Marcelle Meyer (piano)
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Volkmar Andreae *
rec. live 1950-56
TAHRA 579-580 [69.21 + 65.40]

 



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 well.

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 still further.

Jonathan Woolf

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