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Women at the Piano Vol. 4 - An anthology of Historic Performances 1921-1955
see end of review for details
rec. Westminster’s London Studio, London, UK, June 1955
NAXOS 8.111218 [78:04]

Experience Classicsonline

This is another of Naxos Historical’s excellent series exploring the recorded legacy of great women pianists. The marvellous thing about such series is the discoveries that one makes, sometimes in repertoire but always in the names of the musicians. There were several such for me on this disc. This is volume 4 and it is to be hoped that there will be more. As it is and with an average of 15 per disc Naxos has already explored at least 60 women pianists - no mean feat.
The first pianist on the disc is a name that’s new to me. Constance Keene was born in New York and this early recording of hers is an extremely good one of Beethoven’s Variations on an original theme in C minor. It sounds great even after 60 years. She also recorded all of Rachmaninov’s Preludes. It would be interesting to hear that sequence if this recording is anything to go by. Another discovery for me followed with Reine Gianoli in a 1947 recording of Brahms’ Rhapsody in G minor, Op.79, No.2. Another Rhapsody followed, this time one of Liszt’s played by Greek-born Gina Bachauer, considered by many as the greatest woman pianist of the 20th century. Of her biographer Graham Wade said “The scope of her personality, the expanse of her transcendent musical expressiveness, the sheer magic of her presence, could never be adequately communicated by words on the page.” Listening to this recording one can’t fail to agree. Rosa Tamarkina was only a name to me as I’d never heard anything played by her. This recording of her Chopin, dating from around 1947, shows clearly what a tragedy it was that she died of cancer at the early age of 30. It is a particularly poignant recording as it was to mark Chopin’s birth centenary and at the same time was her last public appearance. It brought to mind that other great Chopin exponent Dinu Lipatti who also died of cancer the same year at only 33. Liza Fuchsova the Czech pianist comes next in the first recording ever made of Smetana’s Fantasy on Czech Folk Songs. It’s a thrillingly bravura performance of this rarely heard work.
Lilly Dymont, another name new to me plays Albeniz’s Sevilla from Suite española in a recording from 1930, not that you’d be aware of that from this expertly restored version. Ed Thompson deserves high praise for the restorative work he’s done on all these recordings. We stay in Spain for another discovery in the shape of Marcelle Meyer whose recording of De Falla’s Miller’s Dance from his Three Cornered Hat takes us even further back to 1925. Again Thompson’s sterling work belies that fact. Still in Spain we have French pianist Maria Tagliaferro’s interpretation of a Mompou piece. This displays her ability to contrast great passion with a light and gentle touch. A Fauré piano work comes next played in 1944 by French pianist Marie-Thérèse Fourneau who also exhibits a feather-like treatment of his Barcarolle No.3 in G flat major, Op.42 (1885). Yet another new name for me is that of the Swiss pianist Lottie Morel. Here she plays a charming little piece by a composer I hadn’t come across either, André-François Marescotti, whose piano concerto she also recorded. French pianist Yvonne Lefébure plays three short pieces by Albert Roussel in a recording dating from 1949. This shows her prowess in French repertoire. Her ability made her a favourite of conductors like Igor Markevitch and Sir Adrian Boult. She received the Croix de la Légion d’Honneur along with Vlado Perlemuter in 1960 and was the teacher of such piano greats as Samson François, Dinu Lipatti and Imogen Cooper - say no more! Scottish-born Winifred Christie’s account of Moritz Rosenthal’s Papillons is from 1921.It’s the first track to shows its age not that that detracts in any way from the delightful interpretation of this charming little piece. I’d not heard of either of the last two pianists, Bärbel Andreae or Edith Farnadi but both Andreae’s Schubert and Farnadi’s Strauss waltz are worthy additions to this roll-call of fantastic women pianists. Andreae’s Schubert piece Soirée de Vienne No.6 was the first on record while Hungarian Farnadi’s Johann Strauss II waltz, recorded in 1955, the most recent of all the recordings on the disc, is a dazzling display of her talent. That comes as no surprise when you read that her teachers included Bartók and Kodály!
This series throws a light on great keyboard interpreters, many of whom will no doubt be new to most people. That’s the value of such series with Naxos continuing its well established tradition of seeking out historical recordings of real interest and presenting them to the listening public at a great price. This is a disc of particular value.
Steve Arloff 

Reviews of other releases in this series
Volume 1
Volume 3

Track listing
Constance Keene (1921-2005)
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1825) 32 Variations on an original theme in C minor, WoO 80 [10:26]
rec. New York, USA, 27-29 September 1952
Reine Gianoli (1915-1979)
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Rhapsody in G minor, Op.79, No.2 [3:58]
rec. Paris, France, 30 May 1947
Gina Bachauer (1910-1976)
Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Hungarian Rhapsody No.12 in C sharp minor (S244/12) rev. Saint-Saëns [8:34]
rec. EMI Studio No.3 Abbey Road, London, UK, 8 June 1949
Rosa Tamarkina (1920-1950)
Frederyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Scherzo No.3 in C sharp minor, Op.39 [6:57]
rec. Moscow, USSR, circa 1947
Liza Fuchsova (1913-1977)
Bed řich SMETANA (1824-1884) Fantasy on Czech Folk Songs in B minor [5:38]
rec. London, UK, 1944
Lilly Dymont (1911-2006)
Isaac ALBENIZ (1860-1909) Suite española, Op.47: No.3 Sevilla [4:46]
rec. Germany 1930
Marcelle Meyer (1897-1958)
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946) El sombrero de tres picos: Danza del molinero (The Miller’s Dance) (Farruca) [2:14]
rec. London, UK, 1 December 1925
Magda Tagliaferro (1893-1986)
Federico MOMPOU (1893-1987) Suburbis: El carrer, el guitarrista i el vell cavall [3:37]
rec. Paris, France, 26 March 1930
Marie-Thérèse Fourneau (1927-2000)
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Barcarolle No.3 in G flat Major, Op.42 [6:34]
rec. Paris, France, 21 April 1944
Lottie Morel (1909-1973)
André MARESCOTTI (1902-1995) Fantasque [4:19]
rec. Switzerland 1953
Yvonne Lefébure (1898-1986)
Albert ROUSSEL (1869-1937) Trois Petites Pièces, Op.49 [6:18]
rec. Paris, France, 20 June 1949
Winifred Christie (1882-1965)
Moritz ROSENTHAL (1862-1946) Papillons [2:35]
rec. London, UK, 1921
Bärbel Andreae (1909-1996)
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Soirée de Vienne No.6 in A (arr. Liszt S427/6) [5:22]
rec. 1929
Edith Farnadi (1921-1973)
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899) Schatz Waltz (Treasure Waltz), Op.418 (arr. Ernő von Dohnányi) [6:45]































































































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