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Hans Richter-Haaser (piano)
Piano Recitals in Germany
rec. 1948-1970
MELOCLASSIC MC1050 [76:40 + 79:15]

This is the second volume of German radio broadcast recordings by Hans Richter-Haaser (1912-1980) that Meloclassic have issued. I missed the first volume. Once again, these performances are receiving their first publication.

He studied at the Dresden Conservatory and made his debut in 1928, aged 16. When the Second World War broke out he fought for the Nazis with an anti-aircraft unit. Piano playing had to be sidelined for several years, leading to his technique slipping. Fortunately, it was regained after the war. In addition to giving concerts, he did some conducting and teaching. He was also the composer of several works including a symphony and a piano concerto. He collapsed and died during a rehearsal aged only sixty-eight in 1980.

Rather than comment on all of the music performed, I’ll single out some of the highlights. The introspective Rondo in A minor by Mozart is both touching and simple. The performance carries it off with clarity and precision and conveys its underlying melancholy and poignancy. Beethoven’s Andante favori was a movement originally intended for the Sonata No 21 ‘Waldstein’. The performance brings out the mischievous and playful character of the brief middle section. I first became familiar with Weber’s Second Sonata in A flat major from a recording by Alfred Brendel. It’s a captivating score of flowing lyricism and dramatic thrust. Richter-Haaser delivers an exciting and fully committed performance. He also performs Schumann’s Posthumous Variations; these are five discarded variations which Brahms salvaged for the Symphonic Études, Op 13 after the composer’s death. The fifth variation is particularly fine for the pearl-like quality of the sound Richter-Haaser achieves.

Commanding virtuosity and purposeful direction are a compelling feature of the 1954 traversal of Brahms’ five-movement Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op 5. You certainly won’t feel short-changed on big romantic gestures. The closing bars of the finale are breathtaking in a thrilling race to the finishing line. Scriabin is not a composer that first comes to mind when considering Richter-Haaser. The performance of the Sonata No 10, Op 70 from 1957 is wondrous in its effortless virtuosity and palette of rainbow hues. The opening measures are profound and spiritual and the later trills and tremolos, depicting insects, glisten and gleam. The Poème satanique brims over with Mephisto diablerie.

Although Richter-Haaser carved out his legacy on repertoire that centred on Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart and Haydn, this 2 CD set offers performances in less familiar territory for him. It all constitutes a valuable addition to his discography which his devotees will warmly welcome.

Stephen Greenbank

CD 1 [76:40]
WEBER: Piano Sonata No 2 in A-flat major, Op 39
Recorded ∙ 20 July 1953 ∙ Stuttgart ∙ Krone ∙ SDR ∙ Radio Studio Recording
HAYDN: Arietta con 12 Variazioni in A major, Hob XVII 2
CHOPIN: Allegro de concert in A major, Op 46
Recorded ∙ 18 May 1953 ∙ Hamburg ∙ Studio 10 ∙ NDR ∙ Radio Studio Recording
BRAHMS: Piano Sonata No 3 in F minor, Op 5
Recorded ∙ 05 November 1954 ∙ Frankfurt ∙ Raum 3 ∙ HR ∙ Radio Studio Recording

CD 2 [79:15]
BEETHOVEN: Fantasia in G minor, Op 77
LISZT: 6 Consolations, HS 172
Recorded ∙ 20 January 1960 ∙ Hamburg ∙ Studio 10 ∙ NDR ∙ Radio Studio Recording
MOZART: Rondo in A Minor, KV 511
BEETHOVEN: Andante favori in F major, WoO 57
SCHUMANN: Symphonic Etudes, Op 13 [Posthumous Variations]
Recorded ∙ 04 December 1970 ∙ Hamburg ∙ Studio 10 ∙ NDR ∙ Radio Studio Recording
DEBUSSY: L’isle joyeuse, L 106
Recorded ∙ 14 November 1958 ∙ Hamburg ∙ Studio 10 ∙ NDR ∙ Radio Studio Recording
DEBUSSY: Deux Arabesques, L 66
Recorded ∙ 25 February 1960 ∙ Baden-Baden ∙ Studio 5 ∙ SWF ∙ Radio Studio Recording
SCRIABIN: Piano Sonata No 10, Op 70
Recorded ∙ 14 October 1957 ∙ Frankfurt ∙ Raum 3 ∙ HR ∙ Radio Studio Recording
SCRIABIN: Poême satanique, Op 36
Recorded ∙ 15 December 1948 ∙ Frankfurt ∙ Funkhaus ∙ HR ∙ Radio Studio Recording

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