This is part of Tahra's unfurling ‘French Pianists’ series
and it presents previously unreleased radio archive broadcast
performances. They derive
from the years 1954-58. Casadesus and Perlemuter have a disc each.
The Casadesus threesome - Gaby, Robert and Jean - essay one of their family
favourites, the Concerto for three keyboards BWV 1063. This is a roughly hewn
reading with some perhaps predictably monolithic accompaniment. It's a shame
that it's next to impossible to differentiate the three musicians one from
another but even so and in the context of the performance as a whole, it's a
suitably sonorous and expressive experience. The power and vitality of the finale
certainly emerge unscathed from any sonic limitations.
Robert can also be heard in two Mozart concertos. K414 is accompanied by the
sensitive and efficient Scarlatti Orchestra of Naples. He proves a lucid communicator
though there are a few stumbles - there's a baddie at 4.50 into the first movement.
Overarching all this is his sense of finesse and colour, the unimpeachable sense
of logic and expression, how accompanying figures are just right, how tonal beauty
is never promoted as an end in itself. True he does get rather lost at around
4.58 in the slow movement but one can easily overlook this in a live performance
and savour instead the nuanced vitality of the finale. He recorded K491 with
Szell but this NWDR performance is not in that league. This is a quite stern
and roughly driven performance; passagework is especially terse and fiery, though
we find refined pianism in the slow movement, and fine orchestral wind statements.
Perlemuter offers Mozart concerto, K467 with Fernand Oubradous. The piano is
very forward in the balance and frequently covers orchestral lines - counter
themes as well, much to the detriment of the musical argument. He too strikes
an uncertain note - around 11.00 in the first movement - and the orchestra sounds
hesitant as well, not coming in together at around 11.35 for instance. His left
hand accompanying figures are rather heavy in the slow movement, a feature accentuated
by the up-front recording balance. The finale is the best played and interpreted
movement. There's also the C minor Beethoven concerto and here the balance is
much better. Martinon accompanies strongly and sensitively. The actual piano
tone may be a touch plummy but the playing itself is commanding, and the slow
movement has real nobility, clarity and well judged rubati. There's a charming
gracefulness to Perlemuter's playing of the finale and the few miss-hits are
of no account. One feels him much more idiomatically focused in the Beethoven
concerto than he had been in the Mozart.
Live performances invariably carry sonic or interpretative baggage. But despite
the limitations these are valuable examples of the pianists’ work, though
ones for which occasional largesse needs to be extended.