This disc and DVD unites the Bareres,
father and son, across the many years
since Simon’s untimely death on stage,
playing the Grieg Concerto. The disc
presents an apparently never-before-published
performance of the Liszt E flat major
concerto given by Simon in 1948 as
well as an evening’s musical entertainment
at the home of a family friend and
recorded. There are also valuable
performances by Boris Barere, recordings
made for Balanchine in 1954 and 1957
with a view to ballet performances
by the latter.
The Liszt Concerto
was given with the Musician’s Union
Symphony Orchestra under Frieder Weissmann
at the Brooklyn Museum. It’s survived
in rough sound with some blips throughout.
Luckily in the solo passages we can
hear Barere better, though I wouldn’t
want to pretend that this is in any
way a relaxing listening experience.
It’s certainly less easy on the ear
than the 1946 live performance of
the concerto preserved on APR. Barere
steams through the Liszt in Brooklyn
trailed by a gallant but rather slipshod
orchestra. It’s a remarkable feat,
captured in distant, crumbly sound,
but which attests to Barere’s galvanic
presence on stage.
Something of that
sheer command can be heard in the
home-recorded segments from his repertoire.
He was clearly enjoying himself and
can be heard off-duty along with associated
party noise in the background – chatting,
chortling, singing, comments. The
Liszt-Gounod suffers from a wobbly
tape and, again, these examples were
hardly made to be preserved for posterity
so we must take them for what they
are – and that includes the concluding
"Mah-vellous party" comments
from the host. Nevertheless these
are, for specialists, remarkable documents
of unbridled relaxation – if only
such existed of Leopold Godowsky!
Boris Barere is a
distinguished musician in his own
right and Cembal d’amour has documented
his performances as an accompanist
on previous discs. Here we have his
Schumann Symphonic Etudes, recorded
for Balanchine, for whose company
he played, to be of use in possible
choreography projects. Boris’s Schumann
is powerful, purposeful, strongly
delineated and characterised with
an especially haunting eleventh variation.
The Tchaikovsky was also a product
of Boris’s Balanchine years and brief
though this selection is we can hear
how colouristic and engaging his playing
To add to his playing
we have a DVD that documents an interview
he gave to Mordecai Shehori. The camera
work is of the homespun variety –
don’t expect a Christopher Nupen set
up here – and the screen image, along
with the audio track, sometimes comes
and goes so you occasionally need
to strain to hear things. But don’t
let that detain you. Barere is infectious
company, a wise raconteur who lets
slip the most astounding details.
His father never owned a piano in
his life – this is Simon Barere, one
of the greatest virtuosi ever to have
graced the concert stage. Still this
is no hagiography. "He was a
very strange man," Barere says
of his father as he relates a hedge
fund of relishable stories about pianist
Gods of days gone by – Godowsky included.
Simon apparently practised little,
erratically and unsystematically –
"he didn’t know how to play"
Boris says at one point – and Boris
labels his father "a pianistic
freak." There is plenty to amuse
and amaze in this interview, made
salient by virtue of Shehori’s useful
prompts – fees (low for Simon), Borovsky,
Horowitz, Rachmaninoff, Berl Senofsky,
and Heifetz ("a weirdo").
There is also a most interesting segment
where Boris plays, trying to reproduce
his father’s fingerings and then Shehori
plays under Barere’s benign tutelage.
This is a specialist
acquisition no doubt but with it you
will be guaranteed a unique insight
into the mind and music of the Bareres.