The Great Pianists Volume 14: Masters of the Piano Roll Series - Ignaz Friedman
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Waltz in E flat minor Op.18 [4:56]
Impromptu in A flat Op.29 [3:50]
Waltz in D flat Op.64 No.1 Minute Waltz [1:30]
Polonaise in B flat Op. 71 No.2 [5:32]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Des Abends Op.12 No.1 [3:12]
Warum? Op.12 No.3 [2:29]
Moriz MOZSKOWSKI (1854-1925)
Serenade Op.15 [2:12]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Paganini Study No.3 La Campanella [4:57]
Hungarian Rhapsody No.14 in F minor [8:56]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Die Walküre - Magic Fire Music [4:05]
Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894)
Romance in E flat Op.44 [3:08]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV565 [7:51]
Ignaz FRIEDMAN (1882-1948)
Elle Danse Op.10 No.5 [2:46]
Old Time Minuet Op.10 No.5 [3:00]
Viennese Dances No.1 [3:28]: No.2 [2:40]: No.3 [3:57]: No.4 [3:57]
Ignaz Friedman (piano)
rec. onto piano rolls c. 1921-26
DAL SEGNO DSPRCD 054 [73:33]
Ignaz (or Ignace) Friedman (1882-1948) made a number of piano rolls in the 1920s and many of them have been issued by different companies over the years, on LP as well as CD. Dal Segno has embarked on a long series of restorations of roll performances, transfers carried out in 1992, and I have reviewed a fair number of them here.
Friedman remains famous as a Chopin performer, though his repertoire was quite broad. For rolls he recorded, in addition to Chopin, works by Liszt, Wagner, Schumann, Anton Rubinstein, Mozskowski and Bach. This last is important because of the lack of any of his Bach on 78s.
Comparison with the same rolls transferred by Nimbus in their ‘Grand Piano’ series shows often very divergent results. There’s a 16 second difference for instance between the same roll of the Minute waltz transferred by Dal Segno (1:30) and Nimbus (1:46) and this is by no means an unusual divergence, or even the most extreme - which is the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody.
The Dal Segno cannot seriously represent Friedman’s roll playing of that Minute waltz with its bizarre rubati and the Nimbus is strongly to be preferred. Even that however cannot compare to the 1923 Columbia disc that Friedman recorded which preserves both his tonal qualities and his approach to rubati. Valuably, roll technology recorded all four of the pianist’s Viennese Dances, ones sometimes ascribed to that hyphenated beast Gärtner-Friedman, but in reality the work was almost all Friedman’s. Friedman made a recording of No.1 in 1925. His playing is marvellously fluid and vivid, and full of real coquettish charm. The roll alas is stiff, and as tempting as flat soda. Another example must suffice. Friedman recorded Rubinstein’s Romance on disc in 1928. This electric recording preserves his luminous tone and is an alluring example of his art. The roll of just two years earlier is trapped in the metrical straitjacket of the system.
As before, these rolls are only intermittently convincing. Where comparison allows, I generally prefer the restorations carried out more recently than these, on Nimbus. But there’s no substitute for the real thing. Friedman’s recorded legacy on 78 is on Naxos Historical. That’s the place to start.
Jonathan Woolf
Only intermittently convincing.