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Andor Foldes (piano)
Piano Recitals in Germany
rec. 1950-1968
MELOCLASSIC MC1054 [74:37]

Andor Földes was born in Budapest in 1913, later becoming an American citizen and removing the umlaut from his surname. He was closely associated with the music of Béla Bartók, and also became a respected interpreter of the Viennese Classical composers. In 1961, he and his wife, a Hungarian journalist, moved to Switzerland, enticed by the lure of more engagements. He remained there for the rest of his life. He tragically died at his home in Herrliberg, Switzerland, on February 9, 1992, after falling down a flight of stairs.

Boasting a sizeable discography, his commercial discography has been championed by the Eloquence label, who put out a 19 CD retrospective last year, which I enthusiastically reviewed. This CD of live recordings from Meloclassic draws on three broadcast recitals the pianist made in Germany (Frankfurt and Bremen) between 1950 and 1968.

The lion’s share of the disc is taken up with Beethoven, there being two sonatas and the C minor Variations. First off we have the short Piano Sonata in G major, Op 79. Foldes takes a very brisk and joyous view of the opening movement, which is as it should be as it’s marked Presto alla tedesca. By contrast, the middle movement is a melancholic barcarolle. The witty Rondo finale recalls to mind the ‘Rage over a lost penny’. From a recital given two years later we have the Piano Sonata in E major, Op 14 No 1. Foldes provides a cheerful and exuberant view of it. The composer later arranged this beautiful sonata for string quartet, which certainly works well. The 32 Variations on an original theme in C minor, WoO80 derive from a 1968 broadcast from Bremen. The imaginative variations are built on the theme of a traditional chaconne. It’s a work Glenn Gould excelled in, and this one is no less a bold and bracing account.

Liszt’s B minor Sonata requires a pianist with great virtuosic skill to bring it off. Foldes possesses all the essentials to secure the performance’s success. He understands the work’s cyclical structure, keeping it as a single cohesive unit and integrating the themes into one overarching sonata-form movement. There’s sufficient contrast between the moments of tension and drama and the more expressive passages. Schumann’s Toccata is likewise dispatched with unbridled virtuosity, and truly catches fire. The three Debussy pieces are idiomatic and stylish and reveal a distinctive palette of tonal colour.

These fine-sounding radio broadcasts have been given a new lease of life, due to the sterling efforts of Lynn Ludwig. The accompanying booklet provides a well-written biographical portrait. In common with all the Foldes’ recordings I’ve encountered, these performances deliver elevated and artful musicianship.

Stephen Greenbank

BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No 25 in G Major, Op 79 [7:38]
Recorded ∙ 26 October 1950 ∙ Frankfurt ∙ Studio ∙ HR ∙ Radio Studio Recording
BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No 9 in E Major, Op 14, No 1 [11:19]
SCHUMANN: Toccata in C Major, Op 7 [5:17]
Recorded ∙ 20 October 1952 ∙ Frankfurt ∙ Studio ∙ HR ∙ Radio Studio Recording
BEETHOVEN: 32 Variations in C Minor, WoO 80 [10:48]
LISZT: Piano Sonata in B Minor, HS 178 [29:09]
DEBUSSY: Deux Arabesques, L 66 [6:44]
DEBUSSY: La plus que lente, L 121 [3:37]
Recorded ∙ 03 April 1968 ∙ Bremen ∙ Funksaal ∙ RB ∙ Radio Studio Recording

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