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van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Sonata No. 7 in D, Op. 10/3 (1797/98) [22:33];
Piano Sonata No. 16 in G, Op. 31/3 (1802) [20:18]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Carnaval (1834) [25:24]
rec. BBC Studios, London, 19 May 1963 (Schumann); 11 November, 1987 (Beethoven).
BBCL 4199-2 [70:45]
by Annie Fischer are always revelatory and to be cherished.
I caught her once live in recital – and a very beautiful
occasion it was, too. This BBC Legends disc acts as a timely
reminder of her stature.
Beethoven sonatas are the most musically valuable part of
the disc. That is not to say that Schumann's Carnaval is
not without its high points. Those who despise wrong notes
may wish to head straight for the sonatas, though. There
are points of splashiness - it is live, after all. Fischer
is clearly determined to project her interpretation come
what may, but there are moments of great play, too ('Arlequin')
as well as true intimacy and these can spill at a moment's
notice into muscle-flexing rhetoric. The quasi-improvised
'Eusebius' is one of many moments of magic, and Fischer ensures
that the ensuing 'Florestan' blazes in due contrast. Her
letters dance cheekily, while the Presto of 'Pantalon' is
given with a Bach-like toccata touch. It‘s anything goes
for the hell-for-leather Presto of 'Paganini', but whether
the final peroration of the 'Marche des Davidsbündler contre
les Philistins' has a truly climactic effect is debatable.
is more human than Jorge Bolet on Decca - one of my benchmarks
in this work. She is infinitely more inside the music than
Aimard on Warner Classics but one has to contend with the
occasional snowstorm of wrong notes and playing the cracks.
The recorded sound is fine if a trifle thin and occasionally
threatens to distort without actually doing so. There is
enough here, though, to make me want to hear Fischer, live
again but this time in Montreal in 1984, on Palexa 514.
Beethoven Op. 10 sonata heard here is given a serious performance,
but an affectionate one. The Presto is no headlong rush,
but has a real grace and attendant dignity. The Largo
e mesto second movement is one of Beethoven's most profound utterances
of any of his three periods. Fischer finds just the right
intensity at a speed that nevertheless allows for flow. Sforzandi make
emotional points without any forcing of tone. The third movement
does not quite emerge seamlessly from the final repeated
low Ds of the Largo; just a touch awkward. Yet the finale
is replete with humour as well as a definite exploratory
finds humour, too, in the first movement of Op. 31/1. Her
fleet fingers have no problems with the tricky semiquaver
articulations. It is the Adagio grazioso slow movement that
is the highlight with some miraculous, bejewelled right-hand
decorations. At around 4:57 there is the most wonderful pedal-free
effect that is guaranteed to bring a smile to anyone's face.
The finale, too, is easy-going, ambling its way reassuringly
this for the Beethoven, in particular, and enjoy the Schumann
for what it is – a live performance in which Fischer let
go of inhibitions, no matter what the consequences.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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