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Jascha Spivakovsky (piano)
Bach to Bloch - Volume 8
rec. 1955-1966

Volume eight of the Jascha Spivakovsky ‘Bach to Bloch’ series has arrived and there’s still no sign of Bloch (it’s yet to come). There are however two Beethoven sonatas, and some valuable Chopin, culled from a variety of sources.

Beethoven’s Op.14 No.1 sonata comes from a 1955 broadcast, a crisp, well accented, rhythmically virile reading that conforms to the traits established in previous volumes. The companion Quasi una fantasia sonata (Op.27 No.1) dates from 1957, finds Spivakovsky’s expressive rounded tone surmounting any relative limitations in sound quality. Structurally convincing, he takes the second movement at an almost military clip and proves commanding in the finale.

Schumann’s Arabeske comes from a 1960 ABC broadcast and finds him taking some risks in a performance of personalised bravura. There are three Chopin performances, the audio remnants of a 1967 ABC TV broadcast – I assume that no video exists of Spivakovsky’s performance, tantalising though that thought is – and shows him in a variety of moods. True, the sound can be, inevitably perhaps given the source material, splintery and a little watery – it sounds to me as if quite some restoration has gone on to ensure that the sound is as listenable as it is – but the pieces act as good representative examples of his playing and of what must have been particular favourites in his repertoire, as examples of the First Ballade, the Revolutionary Etude and Fantasie Impromptu have already been released in this series. He was now 70 but still fiery, still canny regarding rubati and still evincing elements of Old School pianism.

The Gluck-Brahms Gavotte in A major, from a 1955 radio broadcast, is full of rich sonority whilst the disc concludes with a 1967 TV broadcast performance of La Campanella, a resounding way to end the latest volume in a series that continues to show Spivakovsky’s virtues of imagination and digital fluency – along with some interpretative limitations - through these valuable and rare surviving documents.

Jonathan Woolf

BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 9 in E Major, Op. 14, No. 1 [13:48]
Recorded: NZBC, 1955
BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 13 in E-flat Major, Op. 27, No. 1, "Quasi una fantasia" [15:50]
Recorded: ABC, 1957
SCHUMANN Arabeske in C Major, Op. 18 [:18]
Recorded: ABC, 1960
CHOPIN Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 23 [9:02]
Recorded: ABCTV, 1967
CHOPIN Etude in C Minor (Revolutionary), Op. 10, No. 12 [3:00]
Recorded: ABCTV, 1967
CHOPIN Fantasie Impromptu in C-sharp Minor, Op. 66 (Post.) [5:06]
Recorded: ABCTV, 1967
GLUCK-BRAHMS Gavotte No. 2 in A Major [5:13]
Recorded: ABC, 1955
BRAHMS Intermezzo in C Major, Op. 119, No. 3 [1:29]
Recorded: on own Spivakovsky's Blüthner, 1961
BRAHMS Capriccio in B Minor, Op. 76, No. 2 [3:25]
Recorded: on own Spivakovsky's Blüthner, 1961
LISZT La Campanella, S.141, No. 3 [4:43]
Recorded: ABCTV, 1967

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