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Paderewski - The American Recordings: The Complete Victor Recordings 1914-1931
Ignacy Jan Paderewski (piano)
rec. 1914-1931
APR 7505 [5 CDs: 311:12]

For devotees of the Polish pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941), this five disc set of the Complete American Victor Recordings will be enthusiastically embraced. Together with Paderewski – his earliest recordings (APR6006) and Paderewski – his final recordings (APR5636), it completes APR’s Paderewski recorded edition.

CDs 1-2 of the present set are acoustic recordings and discs 3-5 are electrical. The audio restoration engineer Mark Obert-Thorn states in his liner contribution that during the period 1914-1931 the pianist recorded exclusively for the Victor Talking Machine Company in sessions held either in New York or Camden. Every published take is presented chronologically and in matrix order, with the exception of the first side of the Wagner/Liszt Flying Dutchman, the last recording he made for Victor. Also included are two spoken-word sides to mark the Golden Anniversary of Paderewski's American debut, dated 13 May 1941. For Obert-Thorn the task has been a labour of love, and in the booklet he discusses in detail the seeking out of source material, stabilizing pitch, matching sound and noise reduction.

Not only was Paderewski a pianist, embodying the very essence of romantic pianism, but also a composer of some achievement. Throughout his life he attracted a popular following, attaining legendary status. He made an impact on the world’s stage, becoming Prime Minister of Poland in 1919, and serving ten months in this role. He was a prolific recording artist: his discography spans the early 78 era, beginning in 1911, and ending in 1938 when he was in his late seventies.

Jan Amberg's assessment of Paderewski's style being 'outmoded', in his booklet notes, pretty much hits the mark. His pianism didn't evolve with the times, and he continued with his antiquated performance style to the end. It was the age-old conflict between the letter and the spirit. This in no way dampened his popularity. Many younger colleagues admired him, including Dame Myra Hess and Edwin Fischer, who credited the beginning of his musical education to the day he first heard the great man play.

Paderewski possessed a rich sonority, as evinced in these recordings. His teacher Theodor Leschetizsky emphasised the importance of tone production and achievement of colour by sophisticated use of the pedal. The American critic James Gibbons Huneker commented: 'There were infinite shades in the colouring, but also brilliance and force when needed ...'. Two striking examples of this achievement of pastel shading and luminous tone production can be found in the acoustic of Chopin's Berceuse in D flat Op. 57 and the Nocturne in E flat Op.9 no. 2, recorded electrically in December 1930. Then there’s the diaphanous voicing of chords in both versions of Debussy’s Reflets dans l’eau from Images Book I.

De-synchronisation of hands, where the entrance of the melodic note is delayed, was employed as an expressive device in the early part of the twentieth century. Paderewski's use emphasizes the vocal qualities of the line. Closer to home, Michelangeli was a fully signed up member. Schumann's Warum and Chopin's Nocturne in F sharp major, Op. 15 No. 2, both set down in April 1914, are particularly afflicted, but more than compensated for by the warm translucent tone and singing quality he brings to these lyrical canvases. Arpeggiation of chords is another anachronism he employs, sometimes inordinately as in Schubert's A flat impromptu, characterizing it as excessively twee. His idiosyncratic use of rubato can niggle at times, but I find I can tolerate it. On a rare occasion he doesn’t fully immerse himself in the spirit of a work. A case in point in the staid rendition of Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude, Op. 28 no. 15, played on automatic pilot and totally bereft of poetic insight.

There are some absolute gems. The two Couperin pieces at the start of CD 1 are subtly nuanced and delicately articulated. Schumann’s Vogel als Prophet from Waldszenen is radiant and glowing, and as fine as the version by Clara Haskil. We’re used to hearing the Liebestod in the Wagner/Liszt arrangement, but very rarely hear the Prelude treated to such lavish workings. Ernst Schelling made a transcription, tending to veer towards over-grandiloquence in parts - it was recorded by Paderewski on 14 October 1930. This has to be the star of the show, with the pianist pulling out all the stops to deliver a reading that is passionate, dramatic and seductively potent. Similar showstoppers, proving the old man’s technique was still in shape, are the J. Strauss/Tausig Man lebt nur einmal and the Wagner/Liszt Spinning Chorus from The Flying Dutchman.

Mark Obert-Thorn’s meticulous care and skilful handling of the source material is commendable. The recordings are, for the most part, vivid and vibrant. The excellent, informative documentation, provided by Jan Amberg, is in English only. For those who have invested in the previous two volumes, this is a fitting completion of APR's appealing retrospective.

Stephen Greenbank
 
Complete track-listing
CD 1 - The Acoustic Recordings [65.00]
recorded on 29 April 1914, Camden
1. COUPERIN La Bandoline (Rondeau) Pièces de clavecin, 5e Ordre No 8, matrix C 14773-2 (88491) [3.00]
2. COUPERIN Le Carillon de Cythère Pièces de clavecin, 14e Ordre No 6,matrix C 14774-1 (88492) [3.54]
recorded on 30 April 1914, Camden
3. SCHUMANN Warum? Fantasiestücke, Op 12 No 3, matrix C 14778-3 (88494) [2.57]
recorded on 14 May 1917, New York
4. CHOPIN Nocturne in F sharp major Op 15 No 2, matrix C 19781-1 (74529) [3.53]
recorded on 23 May 1917, New York
5. CHOPIN Polonaise in A major Op 40 No 1, matrix C 19943-2 (74530) [4.11]
6. PADEREWSKI Minuet in G major Op 14 No 1, matrix C 19783-3 (74533) [4.21]
7. CHOPIN Nocturne in F major Op 15 No 1, matrix C 19941-2 (74545) [4.12]
8. CHOPIN Waltz in C sharp minor Op 64 No 2, matrix C 19923-2 (74539) [3.28]
recorded on 6 June 1917, New York
9. PADEREWSKI Cracovienne fantastique Op 14 No 6, matrix C 19944-2 (74535) [3.17]
recorded on 18 June 1917, New York
10. CHOPIN Étude in G flat major Op 25 No 9, matrix B 19782-6 (64706) [1.18]
recorded on 1 June 1922, New York
11. CHOPIN Berceuse in D flat major Op 57, matrix C 26398-1 (6428-B) [3.56]
12. PADEREWSKI Nocturne in B flat major Op 16 No 4, matrix C 26600-1 (74765) [4.47]
recorded on 26 June 1922, Camden
13. CHOPIN/LISZT My Joys Chant Polonais No 5, Op 74 No 12, matrix C 26392-4 (6428-A) [4.35]
14. CHOPIN Waltz in A flat major Op 42, matrix C 26397-4 (74796) [3.51]
15. LISZT Hungarian Rhapsody No 10 S244/10, matrix C 26399-2 (74788) [4.52]
16. LISZT Hungarian Rhapsody No 2 S244/2, matrix C 26554-1 & C 26603-2 (74805/6) [8.27]

CD 2 - The Acoustic Recordings continued [75.37]
recorded on 26 June 1922, Camden
1. PADEREWSKI Cracovienne fantastique Op 14 No 6, matrix C 19944-6 (74535) [3.20]
recorded on 27 June 1922, Camden
2. CHOPIN/LISZT The Maiden’s Wish Chant Polonais No 1, Op 74 No 1, matrix C 26602-6 (74777) [4.25]
3. MENDELSSOHN Spinning Song Songs without words, Op 67 No 4, matrix B 26393-5 (66150) [1.54]
recorded on 4 May 1923, Camden
4. PADEREWSKI Melodie Chants du voyageur, Op 8 No 3, matrix B 27914-1 (66160) [2.54]
5. PADEREWSKI Cracovienne fantastique Op 14 No 6, matrix C 19944-8 (6230-A) [3.14]
6. CHOPIN Sonata No 2 in B flat minor Op 35 Marche funèbre: Lento, matrix C 27917-1 (6470-A) [4.35]
7. CHOPIN Étude in G sharp minor Op 25 No 6, matrix B 27918-1 (66161) [2.15]
8. CHOPIN Étude in C sharp minor Op 25 No 7, matrix C 27919-1 (6448-A) [4.24]
9. LISZT La leggierezza Études de Concert, No 2 in F minor, S144/2, matrix C 27921-2 (6438-B) [5.01]
10. CHOPIN Étude in A minor Op 25 No 11, matrix C 27923-1 (6438-A) [3.36]
11. MENDELSSOHN Spinning Song Songs without words, Op 67 No 4, matrix B 26393-6 (66150) [1.54]
recorded on 5 May 1923, Camden
12. CHOPIN Mazurka in A minor Op 17 No 4, matrix C 27920-2 (6448-B) [3.26]
13. PADEREWSKI Minuet in G major Op 14 No 1, matrix C 19783-10 (74533) [3.54]
recorded on 12 May 1924, New York
14. SCHUBERT Impromptu in B flat major Op 142 No 3, matrix C 29984-2 & C 29985-2 (6482-A/B) [9.04]
15. DEBUSSY Reflets dans l’eau - Images Book I No 1, matrix C 29986-1 (6538-B) [4.27]
16. SCHUBERT/LISZT Hark! Hark! The Lark S558/9, matrix C 19979-3 (6470-B) [3.19]
17. CHOPIN Étude in D flat major Op 25 No 8, matrix B 29989-1 (unissued) [1.20]
18. CHOPIN Étude in G flat major Op 25 No 9, matrix B 29989-1 (unissued) [1.20]
19. CHOPIN Mazurka in A flat major Op 59 No 2, matrix B 29990-2 (1027-B) [2.38]
20. CHOPIN Mazurka in F sharp minor Op 59 No 3, matrix B 29991-1 (1027-A) [3.31]
21. WAGNER/LISZT Spinning Chorus The Flying Dutchman, S440, matrix C 29992-1 (6538-A) [5.02]

CD 3
 - The Electric Recordings [65.39]
recorded on 20 May 1926, New York
1. SCHELLING Nocturne à Raguze, matrix CVE 35619-2 & CVE 35620-1 (6700-A/B) [5.47]
2. PADEREWSKI Minuet in G major Op 14 No 1, matrix CVE 19783-11 (6690-A) [3.53]
3. PADEREWSKI Minuet in G major Op 14 No 1, matrix CVE 19783-12 (6690-A) [3.53]
recorded on 11 December 1926, New York
4. STOJOWSKI Chant d’amour Op 26 No 3, matrix CVE 37121-2 (6633-B) [4.16]
5. STOJOWSKI By the Brookside Esquisses, Op 30 No 3, matrix BVE 37122-3 (1426-B) [2.36]
6. DEBUSSY Reflets dans l’eau - Images Book I No 1, matrix CVE 29986-3 (6633-A) [4.24]
recorded on 13 December 1926, New York
7. CHOPIN Prelude in D flat major Op 28 No 15, matrix CVE 27915-6 (6847-A) [4.18]
8. CHOPIN Étude in E major Op 10 No 3, matrix CVE 37126-2 (6628-B) [4.32]
recorded on 14 December 1926, New York
9. SCHUMANN Vogel als Prophet Waldszenen, Op 82 No 7, matrix BVE 37128-3 (1426-A) [3.46]
10. PAGANINI/LISZT La campanella Grandes Études de Paganini, S141/3, matrix CVE 37123-2 (6825-A) [4.49]
recorded on 16 December 1926, New York
11. SCHUBERT Impromptu in A flat major Op 142 No 2, matrix CVE 27913-9 (6628-A) [5.02]
12. SCHUBERT Impromptu in A flat major Op 142 No 2, matrix CVE 27913-10 (6628-A) [4.41]
13. BEETHOVEN Sonata No 14 in C sharp minor ‘Moonlight’ Op 27/2 Adagio CVE 37140-1 (6690-B) [4.59]
recorded on 18 August 1927, New York
14. CHOPIN Nocturne in F sharp major Op 15 No 2, matrix CVE 19781-5 (6825-B) [3.39]
15. PAGANINI/LISZT La campanella Grandes Études de Paganini, S141/3, matrix CVE 37123-3 (6825-A) [5.02]

CD 4 - The Electric Recordings continued [62.06]
recorded on 18 August 1927, New York
1. CHOPIN Étude in E major Op 10 No 3, matrix CVE 37126-6 (6628-B) [4.08]
recorded on 22 May 1928, New York
2. CHOPIN Prelude in D flat major Op 28 No 15, matrix CVE 27915-13 (6847-A) [4.15]
3. CHOPIN Prelude in A flat major Op 28 No 17, matrix CVE 37125-8 (6847-B) [4.08]
4. CHOPIN Waltz in E flat major Op 18, matrix CVE 45509-2 (6877-A) [5.02]
5. CHOPIN Étude in C minor Op 10 No 12, matrix BVE 45510-2 (1387-A) [2.42]
6. RUBINSTEIN Valse-caprice in E flat major, matrix CVE 27922-9 (6877-B) [4.48]
recorded on 24 May 1928, New York
7. SCHUMANN Nachtstück in F major Op 23 No 4, matrix CVE 45514-1 (unissued) [4.34]
CHOPIN Sonata No 2 in B flat minor Op 35
8. III Marche funèbre: Lento, matrix CVE 45515-1 & CVE 45516-2 (unissued) [5.41]
9. IV Presto, matrix CVE 45516-2 (unissued) [1.42]
10. CHOPIN Étude in G flat major Op 10 No 5, matrix BVE 37127-10 (1387-B) [2.06]
recorded on 13 October 1930, New York
11. DEBUSSY Danseuses de Delphes - Preludes Book I No 1, matrix BVE 64325-1 (1531-A) [2.41]
12. DEBUSSY Le Vent dans la plaine - Preludes Book I No 3, matrix BVE 64327-4 (1499-B) [2.30]
13. DEBUSSY Minstrels - Preludes Book I No 12, matrix BVE 64328-2 (1499-A) [2.34]
14. RACHMANINOFF Prelude in C sharp minor Op 3 No 2, matrix BVE 64329-1 (unissued) [2.51]
15. RACHMANINOFF Prelude in G sharp minor Op 32 No 12, matrix BVE 64330-2 (unissued) [2.16]
16. CHOPIN Mazurka in D major Op 33 No 2, matrix BVE 63162-1 (1541-B) [2.31]
recorded on 14 October 1930, New York
17. WAGNER/SCHELLING Tristan und Isolde Prelude to Act I, matrix CVE 64331-2 & CVE 64332-3 (7324-A/B) [7.36]

CD 5 - The Electric Recordings continued [62.50]
recorded on 14 October 1930, New York
1. BRAHMS Hungarian Dance No 6 in D flat major WoO 1/6, matrix BVE 64334-2 (1529-B) [3.29]
2. CHOPIN Mazurka in C sharp minor Op 63 No 3 matrix CVE 64333-1R (dubbed from BVE 64333-3) [7416-B) [2.09]
recorded on 14 and *16 October 1930, New York
3. J. STRAUSS/TAUSIG Man lebt nur einmal, matrix *CVE 64339-2 & CVE 64340-1 (unissued) [7.14]
recorded on 16 October 1930, New York
4. CHOPIN Polonaise in E flat minor Op 26 No 2, matrix CVE 64344-1 & CVE 64345-2 (7391-A/B) [7.12]
recorded on 23 December 1930, New York
5. DEBUSSY Voiles - Preludes Book I No 2, matrix BVE 64326-3 (1531-B) [3.23]
6. DEBUSSY Minstrels - Preludes Book I No 12, matrix BVE 64328-6 (1499-A) [2.37]
7. CHOPIN Nocturne in E flat major Op 9 No 2, matrix CVE 64343-3 (7416-A) [3.52]
8. CHOPIN Mazurka in A flat major Op 59 No 2, matrix BVE 64336-3 (1541-A) [2.38]
9. BRAHMS Hungarian Dance No 7 in A major WoO 1/7, matrix BVE 64335-4 (1529-A) [2.01]
10. J. STRAUSS/TAUSIG Man lebt nur einmal, matrix CVE 64339-3 & CVE 64340-4 (unissued) [7.41]
recorded *23 December 1930 and 13 May 1931, New York
11. WAGNER/LISZT SpinningChorus The FlyingDutchman, S440, matrix BVE 64341-5 & *BVE 64342-3 (1549-A/B) [6.07]
recorded on 13 May 1931, New York
12. SCHUBERT Moment Musical in A flat major Op 94 No 2, matrix CVE 69611-1 & CVE 69612-2 (7508-A/B) [7.10)
The Spoken Word Recordings
recorded 31 January 1941New York
Address on the observance of the Golden Anniversary of his American Debut
13. My dear friends..., matrix CS 060450-1 & CS 060451-1 (unissued) [3.47]
14. My dear American friends..., matrix CS 060450-1 & CS 060451-1 (unissued) [2.06]

 

 




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