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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Women At The Piano - Volume 1
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Etudes, Op. 111 (1899) – No. 6, Toccata après le Cinquième Concertoa (1899) [3:06]
Isidor PHILIPP (1863-1958) Feux-follets (Will-of-the-Wisp), Op. 24/3b [1:54]
Selim PALMGREN (1878-1951) Spring, Op. 47 (1915) – No. 1, Evening Whispersc [2:55]
Anton ARENSKY (1861-1906) Characteristic Pieces, Op. 36 (1894) – No. 13, Etude de Concert in F sharpd [2:29]
François COUPERIN (1668-1733) Pièces de Clavecin – Troisième Livre, 14e ordre (1722) – Le Carillon de Cithèree [2:44]
Riccardo PICK-MICHELANGELI La Danza di Olaf, Op. 33/2f [3:36]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Images II (1908) - No. 3, Poissons d’org [3:36]
David GUION (1892-1981) Country Jig in G h (1936) [2:28]
Frutuoso VIANNA (1896-1976) Corta-Jaca i (1931) [3:27]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Music for Children, Op. 65 (1935) - No. 2, Valsej [1:17]
Georg Frederick HANDEL (1685-1759) Suite No. 7 in G minor (publ. 1720) - Passacagliak [3:18]
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946) Piezas Espanolas - No. 4, Andaluzal (1906/9) [3:17]
Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Paeanm (1920) [3:40]
Bernard STAVENHAGEN (1862-1914) Menuetto scherzando, Op. 5n [3:23]
Darius MILHAUD (1862-1974) L’Automne, Op. 115 - No. 2, Alfamao (1932) [2:37]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Prelude in G minor, Op. 23/5p (1903) [3:22]
Alfred GRÜNFELD (1852-1924) Soirée de Vienne (Concert Paraphrase on Johann Strauss’ Waltz motifs), Op. 56q [6:01]
Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841-1894) Bourée fantasquer (1891) [5:53]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Etudes d’exécution transcendante, S139 - No. 5, Feux folletss [3:33]; Années de Pèlerinage, Troisième Année, S163 - No. 4, Les Jeux d’eau à la Villa d’Estet (1867-77) [7:54]
Gabriel PIERNÉ (1863-1937) Etude de Concert, Op. 13u [4:04]
Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI (1860-1941) Humoresques de Concert, Op. 14 (1887-88) - Cracovienne fantasque in B minorv [2:37]
aMonique de la Brouchollerie; bGuiomar Novaes; cIris Loveridge; dMarie Novello; eGaby Casadesus; fSari Biro; gMyra Hess; h Jeanne Behrend; iReah Sadowsky; jRay Lev; kMaryla Jonas; lAline Isabelle van Barentzen; mHarriet Cohen; nEileen Joyce; oMarguerite Long; pRuth Slenczynska; qHilde Somer; rEmma Boynet; sJeanne-Marie Darré; tMoura Lympany; uLucette Descraves; vUna Mabel Bourne.
rec. a22 October, 1947, c27 November 1946, b3 January, d1 May, 1947, e1945, f20 October 1944, g17 February, 1928, h3 July, 1940, i1948, j1946, k3 September 1947, l11 June, 1928, m7 July 1938, n11 January 1937, o10 May 1935, p1945, q1952, r31 March, 1938, s1 May 1944, t22 December, 1947, u3 October 1946, v22 December 1947. ADD
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.111120 [77:28]


Bravo to Naxos! This is an amazing tribute to the woman pianist; and for Marina and Victor Ledin, the producers and audio restoration engineers, this is pure triumph. The scope of repertoire included is amazing, yet it is the sheer excellence of the performances that impresses the most. Pieces flow naturally on from one another, so despite the prevalence of short works, this makes for nearly eighty minutes of satisfying listening.
 
The recording dates range from 1926 to 1952. There is no doubt that some names will be more familiar than others. The better-known pianists include Harriet Cohen, who offers a magnificent, glowing Paean by Bax (Cohen of course was intimately associated with that composer); Marguerite Long playing Milhaud (truly superb sense of colour and a lovely cheeky end); Myra Hess offers Debussy’s Poissons d’or (magically evoked) and Moura Lympany is evocative in Liszt (Les Jeux d’eau à la Villa d’Este). There is even one of Ruth Slenczynska’s first recordings, a robust 1945 Rachmaninov G minor Prelude.
 
It is not just the more famous names that provide pleasure, however. Ray Lev is delicious in Prokofiev. Sari Biro, the first woman to record Mussorgsky’s Pictures, is wonderful in Pick-Mangiagalli’s sprightly Danse d’Olaf - Aldo Ciccolini plays this piece in one of the EMI Classic Archive DVDs, in one of their fascinating appendices. He, too, excels in the sense of fun.
 
Of course previous generations included in their repertoire pieces that have now fallen into obscurity – the discovery of these pieces is surely one of the archivist’s joys. Iris Loveridge’s account of Evening Whispers (Palmgren) is truly crepuscular, while the very next piece, an Arensky Etude de concert - played by Leschitzky pupil Marie Novello - is prime encore material of the first order. Arensky is certainly one of those composers who deserve more unearthing. I would further point to Yablonsky’s recordings of Arensky’s orchestral suites on Naxos (see my review).
 
The highlight of Volume 1? For me, Hilde Somer’s delicious, infectious rendering of Grünfeld’s Soirée de Vienne - incidentally, Somer was the dedicatee of Ginastera’s Second Piano Concerto. Her astonishingly crisp, yet nicely toned, staccato is a continual delight.
 
Annotations are very detailed, although the order of pianists discussed does not match the actual playing order.

Colin Clarke


see also reviews by Jonathan Woolf and Christopher Howell 

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