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Hans von BÜLOW (1830-1894)
Ballade, Op. 11 (1854) [13:55]; Carnavale di Milano, Op. 21 (1871)
[45:23]; La Certa, Op. 27 (1879) [5:44]; Marche héroïque, Op. 3
Mark Anderson (piano)
rec. 4-5 April. 1 August 2011, Wyastone Leys, Monmouth.
NIMBUS NI 5876 [79:30]
This is a lovely disc, and one that also plugs some important
gaps in the repertoire. Hans von Bülow is known as an historical
figure of some import, mainly as conductor. Piano pupil of Friedrich
Wieck (Clara Schumann’s father) and Liszt, friend of Raff, teacher
of Richard Strauss, Bülow was assisted by Wagner, no less, in
his conducting career. He’s also known as the guy who lost his
wife, Cosima, to Wagner.
The recital begins with the doleful Ballade, replete
with Wagnerian chordal progressions. The piece becomes freer
in discourse as it progresses, more quasi-improvised. There
is a nice full-bodied sound, both from the pianist and from
the recording. Anderson is a master of delineation, and there
is some lovely balancing of strands - try the right-hand filigree
around 3:40. Certainly it is a long piece, but Anderson somehow
pulls it off. There are some distinctly Lisztian gestures around
6:40 - spread right-hand chords as part of a long cantabile
line, for example. The impression is of superb pianism.
The Carnavale di Milano, subtitled “Ballabili e Intermezzi”,
was inspired by the ballerina Elvira Salvioni, and the ten movements
portray aspects of the dedicatee’s persona. There are ten dances
and intermezzi, within which one (“Quadriglia”) is divided into
six subsections. This piece lasts three-quarters of an hour,
but is most appealing. The opening Polacca is Chopinesque
and suave with some truly lovely shadings from Anderson. It
is followed by a delightful Valse with a grand ending. This
could be hammy if one is not careful - Anderson brings it off
brilliantly. The Intermezzo is nicely exploratory -
hesitant and teasing. If the six Quadriglia all seem
much of a muchness, Anderson plays charmingly. The Mazurka
is more interesting, more varied, and the Intermezzo lirico
that follows is simply beautiful - it is subtitled “dancing
sighs”. The Tarantella is properly virtuoso.
The short La Certa (The Lizard) is a Schubertian Impromptu
that has been here gorgeously played and recorded. There is
a wonderfully serene coda before the lizard scampers off. And
to finish, the fun Marche héroïque on a theme by Erkel,
from Hunyady László. Anderson teases the hiatuses in
lines very pleasingly and there is an excellent drum - timpani
roll - evocation. Great stuff, undemanding and pleasing.
There does not seem to be that much Bülow in the catalogues
currently. It may be possible to find a disc on Marco Polo of
Bülow’s transcriptions. This is played by Daniel Blumenthal
on Marco Polo 8.223421. There’s also a disc on Oehms
Classics OC 808 of songs by great conductors - Bruno
Walter and Clemens Krauss being the others. Von Bülow’s tone
poem Nirvana appears alongside orchestral works by
Heger, Szell and Weingartner on Arabesque Z6752 (National Philharmonic
of Lithuania/Leon Botstein).