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The Art of Magda Tagliaferro
Reynaldo HAHN (1875-1947)
Concerto in E major (1931) [24:38]
Sonatine in C major (1907) [8:46]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Faschingsschwank aus Wien (1839-40) [19:24]
Romance No. 2 in F sharp minor Op. 28 (1839) [4:31]
Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Impromptu in C sharp minor Op. 66 (1837-42) [3:59]
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)

Sevilla from Suite española Op. 47 (1886) [4:01]
Federico MOMPOU (1893-1987)

La Rue, le Guitariste et le Vieux Cheval [3:40]
Jeunes filles au jardin from Scènes d’enfants (1915-18) [2:20]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

Jardin sous la pluie from Estampes (1903) [3:58]
Toccata [3:51]
Magda Tagliaferro (piano)
Orchestra/Reynaldo Hahn in the Concerto
rec. 1930-34

This disc and its transfers have been licensed from Pearl, and collectors may well remember GEM 0157, which appeared in 2001 and is now out of print, though doubtless available second-hand or in download form. If you prefer a straight reprise of Roger Beardsley’s Pearl transfer, along with original liner-notes from Jeremy Siepmann, then you may want to investigate Heritage’s restoration of that older CD. I reviewed the Pearl here back in 2003, so happily reprise myself.

Brazilian born but French trained, Magda Tagliaferro was the embodiment of Gallic vivacity and élan. One of her teachers happened to have been Cortot and she soon fell into the most rarefied company, being selected by Fauré to tour with him in 1910. A battalion of fiddlers queued up to engage her – Enescu, Thibaud and the venerable scion of the French school, Jules Boucherit. She knew them all – d’Indy, Falla, Villa-Lobos, Poulenc, Pierné and many, many others. She taught in Paris and in Brazil and made her début at Carnegie Hall at the incredible age of eighty-six; when she made her Wigmore Hall debut she was, I believe, even older. She gave her last recitals, aged ninety-two and blind in the year of her death, 1985.

Her records are relatively scarce and this is a delicious selection of them, recorded between 1930 and 1934. The Hahn Concerto, conducted by the composer, I once saw written up — it was a compliment — as ‘chic’. There’s no doubt about it; the liquid and romanticised tracery of the opening Improvisation finds its most adroit and perfect foil in the ardent filigree of Tagliaferro. The movement is a delicious example of gorgeous frippery perhaps but how fabulously she parades it and how witty she is in the Danse second movement. How well she gently underlines the Rachmaninovian inheritance to which Hahn was subtly heir. In the capricious toccata and finale she is full of lyricism, riding those mock suspensions like a surfer cresting the wave. The unnamed orchestra is splendid and the recording, good for its time, sounds even more splendid here.

His little Sonatine follows, a recording made slightly earlier than the Concerto. Hahn shows his obeisance to the native clavichord tradition in the opening Allegro non troppo before etching the slow central movement with beautiful simplicity and his tambourin finale with brisk effusion. A jeu d’esprit – but at nine minutes never one to outstay its elegant, knowing welcome. We are on to more central repertoire with Faschingsschwank aus Wien; the opening is marvellously animated, the Romanza sustained with the greatest of intensities — she was no superficial treble teaser. Her rhythm in the Scherzino is triumphant and her tonal beauty best exemplified in the Intermezzo – which happens to contain some of her most eloquent romanticism. That she had a wide tonal palette can be heard in Chopin’s Impromptu which is full of telling detail – rubato and splendid voicings as well. The Albéniz courses with pearl-toned treble, marvellously rounded bass and rhythmic bravura. As for the Mompou she was a discographic pioneer being the first ever to record a piece of his. She explores the evocative romanticism of his La Rue, le Guitariste et le Vieux Cheval with total sympathy. The final items, by Debussy, come from slightly noisier Ultraphones of 1932 but we can still admire her idiomatic control over Jardin sous la pluie and Toccata.

The transfers are excellent; good copies were used by Pearl and this disc, in Heritage’s astute and growing selection of reissues, restores this valuable tranche of 78s very enterprisingly.

Jonathan Woolf