Leonard Shure in Concert at Jordan Hall
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Piano Sonata No.2 in B flat minor, Op.35 (1839) [24:39]
Ballade No.1 in G minor, Op.23 [9:32]
Prelude No.24 in D minor, Op.28 No.24 [3:09]
Prelude No.23 in F major, Op.28 No.23 [1:17]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Phantasien, Op.116 (1892) [24:43]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Fantasie in C major, Op.17 (1836-38) [34:22]
Leonard Shure (piano)
rec. December 1977 (Chopin Sonata No.2, Prelude 24, Brahms, Schumann), October 1979 (Chopin Ballade), April 1980 (Chopin Prelude No.23) in Concert at Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory of Music, Boston, MA
BRIDGE 9374A/B [49:30 + 48:41]
The distinguished American pianist Leonard Shure (1910-95) was much admired as a performer and teacher, notably as Schnabel’s assistant. It’s valuable therefore that these recital performances have emerged on Bridge, covering the years 1977-80, which enrich his legacy on disc still further.
His Chopin B flat minor sonata is a most interesting study. Initially one fears that Shure is being too didactic phrasally and that the music doesn’t quite flow optimally. I still feel that after a few playing of the first movement, and feel too that Shure’s tone could harden; it’s rather flinty in places here. However as the sonata develops his elevated spirit manifests itself, and so, too, a sense that over-romanticising is definitely not to be indulged. Pathos and delicacy are certainly here, in the slow movement, where his coloristic palette is at its most perceptive, though I do find that the finale lacks a sense of dreadful fantasy. The two inner movements represent the best of Shure’s sonata. He didn’t have an especially big Chopin repertoire, it would appear, but the G minor Ballade is a perfectly attractive performance, conventional in the best sense, and the two Preludes are most persuasively done.
He played Brahms Op.116 in concert in October 1979 as part of the same concert in which he also performed Chopin’s sonata. Each of the seven pieces is well characterised and he shows discrimination throughout as to chordal weight. Schumann’s Fantasie also comes from the same concert and is one of the highlights of this two disc set. He made an LP recording of the work for Epic in the mid 1950s, which I’ve yet to hear, but he manages to bind things extremely well, not least the extended lyrical paragraphs of the first movement. Rhythm and dynamics are excellent in the central movement where a few finger slips are of little account.
The recording quality throughout is fine, and applause from the appreciative audience greets a number of the pieces. There are some fine, biographically helpful notes in this useful release.
Jonathan Woolf  

A useful release. 

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