Error processing SSI file


AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Elly Ney (piano)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Piano Concerto in B flat K450
With anonymous orchestra/Willem van Hoogstraten
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat Op 19
With anonymous orchestra/Fritz Zaun
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)

With Berlin State Opera Orchestra
Willem van Hoogstraten
Recorded 1932-37
BIDDULPH BID 82045 [71.42]


Of all the musicians tainted by their actions during the Second World War few could have seen their reputations sink lower than Elly Ney. A fanatical Hitler worshipper her appearances after the conflagration were mainly peripheral and the reputation she had earlier built as a concerto soloist, Beethovenian of the first rank and powerful chamber player pretty much evaporated. That she really was a player of sometimes quixotic distinction can be verified from her surviving recordings, not least those with her own trio and expanded quartet (the players included Florizel von Reuter, Walter Trampler and the cellist Ludwig Hoelscher with whom Ney was to record some of the Beethoven Cello Sonatas on LP).

Ney was born in 1882 and had an outstanding tutorship culminating in studies with Leschetizky and Emil von Sauer. She taught briefly but her drive as a concert soloist saw her lauded as early as 1909 and marriage to Dutch born violinist and conductor Willem van Hoogstraten saw her embark on a duo career as well. Internationally she visited America regularly and was a visitor to the London Proms – though in London she tended to get asked for the Tchaikovsky B minor in preference to her Beethoven. She seemed for a time to occupy a position vis-à-vis Beethoven that Frederic Lamond had slightly before her and Schnabel was to do shortly afterwards.

Biddulph’s conjoining of these concertos demonstrates many of these central strengths. Above all we can sense her appositely characterised responses to each of these very different works. In the Mozart for example, with an unnamed orchestra not of the front rank under van Hoogstraten there is a rare feeling of engagement and metrical daring, almost an improvisatory quality that is immediately attractive and frequently captivating. Lest risk taking and bravura be thought her distinctive qualities one should also listen to the beautifully weighted chordal playing in the slow movement – and as for bravura, well, she clearly had a big technique but also at times a splashy one. In the finale though despite slips there is a vibrancy and sense of adventure that is distinctive and very real. In her accustomed Beethoven we find a true balance between the choleric and the elevated; she understands Beethoven’s humours, she can play with raucous drama or with elegance and can effortlessly fuse the two in musical terms. This is a very alive performance; it’s rhythmically on its toes without sounding at all rushed, and in the slow movement Fritz Zaun gives us an orchestral introduction of almost Brucknerian spirituality. Here, the apogee perhaps of her playing, she is flexible but forward moving and in the finale she triumphantly drives to the conclusion, barely bothering to notice the finger slips.

The trio is completed by a blistering performance of the Strauss Burleske, a work that really responds to her sense of drama and drive and on the wing musicianship. The tricky side joins here have been well managed though the copies used are rougher sounding than the companion discs. There is I believe no competition for these performances in the catalogue – and Tully Potter’s notes set the seal on a distinguished, exciting and thought provoking disc.

Jonathan Woolf


Error processing SSI file

Return to Index

Error processing SSI file