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REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers


Netherlands Piano Masters from the 19th and 20th centuries
rec. 1924-1980

The Netherlands Music Institute is naturally devoted to the promotion of the country’s musical heritage. One of its greatest roles is as guardian of documents, archives and associated biographical information. Margaret Krill, who is on the staff of the NMI, wrote Netherlands Piano Masters from the 19th and 20th centuries, published by Bekking and Blitz and a portrait of 26 Dutch pianists active between 1850 and 1980. This CD acts as a supplement, as it wasn’t possible to incorporate it within the book itself. One downside is that if you want information about the pianists you’ll need the book, or decent online sources, as there is none printed in the booklet, for obvious reasons. If you want the book, try the publisher Bekking & Blitz or the NMI itself, which can easily be found online.

The recordings of a baker’s dozen of pianists are included in this disc. The source material is sometimes unknown, or even vague, and no catalogue numbers are given; maybe that omission is rectified in the book, which I’ve not seen. I was surprised and pleased to see that Julius Röntgen had recorded c. 1907. As those familiar with his music will know, Grieg was a huge inspiration and it’s pleasantly predictable that he performs the composer’s March with lusty vitality; good sound too, for the time. Johan Wijsman, who died at 41 in 1913, is represented by a piano-roll cut around 1906. He plays an Etude by his compatriot Dirk Schäfer, though being a roll it’s rhythmically metrical and offers only a very partial insight into the pianist’s art. Schäfer himself is one of the best-known of the pianists here and Pearl devoted a whole CD to his recordings, mainly of Chopin (OPAL CD9861). The Waltz Op.42 is also on the Pearl in more whiskery but also more open sound – a bit splashy but lively. The Moscheles Etude isn’t on the Pearl and is an interesting performance heard in rather muffled sound.

We hear from pianists who are better-known as accompanists. Conenraad Valentijn Bos was one of the most illustrious accompanists of his generation, and we hear him in this role for baritone Mack Harrell in two Wolf songs. Similarly Theo van der Pas was a fine collaborative artist but he was also a strong soloist as well and is fortunately heard solo in Bach and Chopin, in post-war accounts. I’d rather like to know the circumstances of George van Renesse’s 1932 recording of Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance in his own arrangement, as it must be from a live broadcast – there are coughs and the sound is muffly. His Chopin Nocturne, by contrast, sounds like a commercial recording and is limpid and sensitive. I assume Hans Henkeman, represented just by the finale of Mozart’s K457 sonata, is also heard live – the recording is also a touch hard.

Cor de Groot is, like Schäfer, the best-known soloistically-speaking, of the pianists here. His life story may have been contentious but he was able to record widely for a time. Here there’s a really strange selection – firstly, an erratically voiced 1937 Chopin Ballade in G and then a curio, an improvisatory and seguing pair of waltzes by Chopin and Brahms, recorded for KRO Radio in c.1980. Sas Bunge is heard in his own Etude in 1978 and then we go back in time to 1933 for a Columbia 78 of Fania Chapiro, the only woman represented here, playing Bach in typewriterly fashion at the amazing age of just seven. Her Brahms Rhapsody, intermittently convincing, dates from 1952. Bram Boelee is heard in privately recorded extracts from Kinderszenen in 1962 and the disc finishes with Theo Bruins, who plays van Barren’s alternately darting and threnodic Sonatine in memoriam Willem Pijper in around 1979.

Obviously this is best listened to in the context of the book – if, that is, your Dutch is up to it. Assuming, like mine, it’s not, you can still enjoy the varied (sometimes very varied) source material in this disc, which provides an aural snapshot of Dutch pianists – it would be difficult to call it Dutch pianism as such – throughout the course of the twentieth-century.

Jonathan Woolf

Full track-listing
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Hochzeitsmarsch [2:09]
Julius Röntgen (piano), rec, c 1907
Dirk SCHÄFER (1873-1931)
Etude in E Op.3 No.8 [2:32]
Johan Wilsman (piano) playing a piano roll c. 1906
Ignaz MOSCHELES (1794-1870)
Etude chromatique [2:20]
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Waltz Op.42 [3:51]
Dirk Schäfer (piano), recorded 1924-25
Hugo WOLF (1860-1903)
Der Rattenfänger (Goethelieder) [2:32]: Der Musikant (Eichendorfflieder) [1:51]
Mack Harrell (baritone); Coenraad Valentin Bos (piano), rec. c. 1949
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Well-Tempered Klavier, Book I: Prelude and Fugue in C, BWV849 [6:19]
Willem Andriessen (piano), rec. unknown
Johann Sebastian BACH
Adagio and Toccata for organ, BWV564 [3:29]
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Mazurka in F, Op.18 No.4
Theo van der Pas (piano), rec. c.1951-55
Antonín DVORAK (1841-1904)
Slavonic Dance Op.72 No.10 arr. G van Renesse [3:17]
Fryderyk CHOPIN
Nocturne in D, Op.27 No.2 [6:29]
George van Renesse (piano) rec. unknown
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Sonata in C, K457: third movement [4:07]
Hans Henkemans (piano)
Fryderyk CHOPIN
Ballade No.1 in G, Op, 23 [8:13]
‘Waltzes of the Week’ CHOPIN Waltz Op. posth ‘Grande Valse brillante’ in A, Op.34 No.2 segueing into BRAHMS Waltz No.15, Op.39 [4:39]
Cor de Groot (piano), rec, c. 1980
Sas BUNGE (1924-1980)
Etude No.6 based on South American rhythms [3:42]
Sas Bunge (piano), rec. c.1978
Johann Sebastian BACH
Well-Tempered Klavier, Book I: Prelude and Fugue in D, BWV850 [2:53]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Rhapsody in G, Op.72 No.2 [4:30]
Fania Chapiro (piano), rec. 1933 and 1952 respectively
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Kinderszenen, Op.15 – extracts [7:11]
Bram Boelee (piano) rec. October 1962
K van BAAREN (1929-1993)
Sonatine in memoriam Willem Pijper [5:22]
Theo Bruins (piano) rec. c. 1979



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