Classical Corner Classical Music Corner

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by George P, May 29, 2015.

  1. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    That's the one, originally issued as a two-record 78 RPM set (in the United States, Columbia set X-39). As I said long, long ago in a "Tempest" shoot-out here on the SH Forums (Classical artists blind comparison thread #4 (Beethoven-"Tempest" Sonata) ), I find it has a perfect blend of fire and poetry, although you should be forewarned that to keep within the bounds of what four 78 RPM sides could hold he cuts the repeat in the last mvt. For other participants' assessments of that recording and several others, you might like to have a look at the linked thread.
     
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  2. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    I have that CD. I just checked out the Tempest on it. The transfers are, as expected, superb, revealing a wonderful tone. The interpretation is quite unique. He plays this faster than I have ever heard it played. To me, it sounds rushed and this rushed manner harms much of the beauty in the music.
     
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  3. hvbias

    hvbias Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeast
    Oh woah, a blind comparison test, I'm in love :love:

    If I can pontificate for a bit, I think these are so invaluable to disposing of our natural biases both positive and negative since as humans (every single one of us!) we are so accustomed to forming them whether we know it or not. And why (thankfully) the back bone of modern medicine is based around randomized control trials, I'm an MD so blind testing is really dear to my heart! Or why the audiophile press is so terrified of them when it comes to things like equipment comparisons or hi-res vs redbook.

    Back to classical years ago I used to do these more often when I had more free time. The major revelation to me was realizing just how banal so many Alfred Brendel's recordings were; surely the great Philips house pianist who the critics adore couldn't have recorded this vast underwhelming output? But time and time again he came very close to last or dead last in my blind comparisons. And it only revealed itself to me when I didn't know I was listening to him. And of course it went the other way as well, where artists whom I had wrote off suddenly had performances that moved me quite a bit. Unfortunately with small kids it has been some time since I have done a blind comparison test, and these days I just leave it to listening to a performance and usually there is some time gap between hearing another interpretation.

    Thanks again for the impressions to you and George. I don't think this will be one for my tastes. If I do come across some place that can stream it I will have a listen. So far I have only found Napster which has about 10 seconds from each movement, not enough to form an opinion.
     
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  4. Marzz

    Marzz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Australia
    Oh my, what a nightmare! Hadn't realized it was that confusing although I did notice "Elliott Everet" (Eli Oberstein) as a performer? Hmm. I'm curious about the recording dates of your Royale 1762 record.
    Thanks very much for that interesting information!
     
  5. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    I trust you hadn't heard Brendel's nickname prior to your blind comparisons? ;)
     
  6. Marzz

    Marzz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Australia
    Hey hvbias, are you aware of your mistype above - you typed Alfred Brendel when you probably meant M. Perahia :p. Just having fun of course, though I admit banal is a word I'd certainly never use to describe Brendel. Different tastes and all that, but I enjoy quite a few of his recordings.
    Anyway, for the Gieseking disc, I can help with longer samples if you like (I have that cd). Otherwise, Chandos offer about a minute or so. BACH, J.S.: Partitas Nos. 1, 5, 6 / Italian Concerto / BEETHOVEN, L. van: Piano Sonata No. 17,
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2018
    drh likes this.
  7. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    Well, I don't, and I find people who do an instant turnoff without further consideration.

    Uh, oh. :oops: ;)

    I got in a lot of trouble for saying this several years (and several iterations of this thread) ago, but I don't think his Philips records do Brendel justice. Having heard him in recital a couple of times, I came away deeply satisfied in a way I usually haven't with his records. For one thing, they tend to "dry out" his tone; to be honest, it wasn't exactly lush in the hall, but it was a good deal warmer than what I have heard from his Philips records.

    That's why I thought you might like to look at the old thread; I love the recording, but reactions from others were mixed. Probably a lot comes down to how you feel about tempo. In general, I like it on the faster side, whereas in this work, at least, George doesn't. Ultimately, a matter of personal taste--do you like Toscanini better, or Klemperer? That kind of thing.
     
  8. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    I bet you'd love Josef Hoffman's Waldstein, or Gulda's Hammerklavier. Heard those? They're fast interpretations (though in Gulda's case he isn't faster than tempo, he simply does a better job than most at achieving it) and I very much enjoy both of them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2018
  9. J.A.W.

    J.A.W. Music Addict

    Someone once said to me that this is not a "Brendel-friendly" thread, on the contrary. Well, I guess they were right. To each their own, of course, but to use the pejorative epithet "banal" goes a bit too far in my opinion.
     
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  10. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    Thanks for posting that--quite a lovely performance, even if not the cleanest transfer, what with the blasting on peaks. I suspect her records aren't exactly thick on the ground, though, so very likely the only choice for a source was a worn copy or one originating as a dubious pressing (like Royale). Certainly it's good enough to show that she was a fine exponent of the older style of Chopin playing.

    For a pianist of her generation, that statement might actually approach defensible. Remember, for her Debussy and Ravel would have been "modern music." Not to mention that wild, crazy Austrian wacko, Mahler!

    What I found amusing in the article was that line about how she was married to the "world-famous conductor" Georg Schneevoigt. I had a similar double-take reaction when reading the artist capsule bios in the program booklet for a Mozart concerto recording by Elly Ney (US Victor 78 RPM set), in which the annotator blithely asserts something along the lines of, "The name Willem van Hoogstraten, of course, needs no introduction to music lovers, given his extensive contributions to our musical life."

    Somehow, I think if you were to say to the average, or even above-average, music lover today, "I particularly enjoy Willem van Hoogstraten's Mozart, although Georg Schneevoigt certainly is not to be missed," the result would be a positively thunderous ":confused:". :laugh:
     
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  11. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    Hey, George, thanks for the tip. I'll put both on my "take a listen" list. As opposed to my "take a list" listen. Er. Um.

    In the Waldstein, I nurse a long-lived fondness for Guiomar Novaes in her recording for American Vox. The way she builds to the climax in the last mvt. reaches out and grabs me every time. Even though 3D movies hadn't been invented yet! ;)

    Incidentally, just to be clear, on average I prefer faster over slower, but that doesn't mean I can't love a slow performance if it is done right. One of the most intense performances I've ever heard was of the Appassionata in a recital by a pianist named Alexander Paley, who used to come here as part of a series sponsored for a few years by the local then-dealer for Bluthner pianos. He took it at maybe 2/3 the slowest tempo I've ever heard elsewhere, but the sense of concentration and power and accumulating tension were powerful, and when he cut loose launching into the final coda, it was positively overwhelming--until he pulled back again, darn it.

    Interesting pianos, Bluthners. My impression of the one featured in that concert series was of an instrument that, up to a point, just naturally gave the same kind of warm, glowing sound I so enjoy in older, pre-Horowitz recordings of the top-line pianists. Alas, beyond that point, when pushed too hard, it seemed to sorta run out of steam. In all events, interesting listening in its own right, leaving aside the (generally high) level of performances on offer.

    [Edit] I actually chatted with one of the pianists at intermission once and remarked on the lovely sound of the instrument. He had what I found a thought-provoking response: yes, the Bluthner gives a very beautiful sound, but the problem is, sometimes you want a sound that isn't beautiful, and you can't get that from the Bluthner. (Or words to that effect.)
     
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  12. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    I will look out for that one. Serkin (mono) is my other favorite Waldstein.

    On the slow/fast thing, I generally have no preference for one over the other, provided I find the interpretation to be persuasive. Celibidache and Richter have some super slow recordings that I adore, while many other artists play stuff fast. Since we are discussing Beethoven, I do tend to prefer his stuff on the faster side (like Schnabel, Gulda and Annie Fischer), as it tends to heighten the drama, tension and youthfulness (in the early and mid periods) of the music.
     
  13. hvbias

    hvbias Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeast
    If you are referring to Hank Drake, then his blog was a much more recent find for me and would have predated my blind comparisons. I only found it after realizing many of his Amazon reviews lined up with my tastes and he used solid objective writing with use of pianistic descriptions over flowery prose. I do think his entry on Brendel was a bit too "savage" and very reaching in many places. I would instead use the more gentle term "piano instructor's pianist" as that is basically what I hear with not much depth outside of a few discs. If Brendel has some other nickname then I haven't heard it :D

    I have heard more Perahia discs that I like than not. I can certainly understand why someone wouldn't care for his playing. If it's alright I'll send you a PM.

    Are you referring to people that solely use blind comparisons a turn off or people that form opinions without them? If it is the former, my use of invaluable means I find them incredibly helpful but they have never been and never will be sole use of determining performance quality. One reason other than time I stopped them is it can cause burn out on piece(s).

    I have heard from one other piano lover that Brendel was much better live. I'll never write off musicians, I intend to continue listening to Brendel recordings I have not heard and see for myself what I think.

    I have no strong opinions on Toscanini outside of the 1939 Beethoven cycle (not including symphony 9) and his exceptional Brahms symphonies where he is very "un-Toscanini" favoring lyricism.

    I listened to Schnabel's Op 31/2, as usual a fine performance as expected from Schnabel. It personally wouldn't make my favorites. There some mention of Hofmann's Waldstein, from the Casimir Marston disc, I too think this is a fantastic performance!

    Now for a bit of symphony discussion- Ivan Fischer Mahler S3 which was one of the most recent of his Mahler recordings, I thought this was simply superb. It is what I would think a modern Bruno Walter recording would sound like; structurally flawless with lots emphasis on small detail without ever losing the big picture. With a single listen I am moving it into my reference list. And the recording quality might even be better than Abbado/Lucerne.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    It's Brendull.

    I have not seen Drake's blog on Brendel, but I find his assessment of Rubinstein to be right on the money. Does he have an ongoing blog?

    I would place Perahia below Ashkenazy and a few steps above Brendel.

    He has a live Schubert disc that is good. His Haydn set on Philips is good too. I also like his Beethoven Bagatelles for Philips. Beyond that, I haven't found much to my taste by him.

    I really need to revisit that 1939 set. I bought it last year, but it rubbed me the wrong way.

    Edge of your seat excitement! :agree:
     
  15. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    No, just a dumb joke about claiming not to be biased while actually being biased against people who are biased. In other words, obliquely agreeing with a point you made earlier. Apologies that I seemingly was a bit too oblique.
     
  16. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    Rather than try to yank out a bunch of quotes from other postings, I'll just start fresh: I think Perahia actually is quite a good Bach pianist. Far and away better than the much-ballyhooed Angela Hewitt, for instance. I do not think he is the last great "poet of the piano," as often seems to be claimed. In literature outside Bach, for the most part I find what I've heard of him (mostly but not entirely on the radio, coming in mid-stream more often than not, so "blind," but not necessarily "complete") a bit bland, certainly in comparison with the major pre-Horowitz interpreters' concept of "poetic." And, accolades from critics far and wide notwithstanding, I just never can forgive him and Radu Lupu for that low-voltage run-through they did of Schubert's great F Minor Fantasy, originally on Columbia. For me, Eschenbach and Frantz set the standard in that work--not in their EMI studio recording but in a concert performance I was lucky enough to tape from radio--but unlucky enough to be taping from WABE-FM, the Atlanta NPR affiliate, after it moved its transmitter and antenna, badly degrading the reception I could milk out of my actually quite decent tuner.
     
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  17. bruce2

    bruce2 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Connecticut, USA
    Have you heard the Fischer recording of Mahler 4? That one really got a lot of rave reviews and I almost ordered it. My go to and only copy I own of the Fourth is Reiner. For the Third I have and love the Analogue Productions SACD of Mehta and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
     
  18. hvbias

    hvbias Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeast
    Oh, nope I have not heard that. The one I know was the article calling him "the accountant's pianist".

    His blog (warning, it has many political entries): Memoirs of an Amnesiac

    And the article on Brendel, which is quite unlike most of his writing and reaching in many places: Memoirs of an Amnesiac: Alfred Brendel: The Accountant’s Pianist

    I did like that he called Godowsky the "pianist's pianist", but darn is it hard to listen to Godowsky through the thick surface noise on those Marston discs :( Kudos to Marston for not making them for the mainstream Amazon reviewers that demand noise reduction and treble roll off.

    I agree with you on his take on Rubinstein as well. I've been listening to more of his pre-tape era recordings thanks to his article on him. I find I prefer much of those early Chopin recordings preferable to his later ones, even though it was the later recordings that were my introduction to him.

    My notes say I like his Liszt Piano Sonata but that was dated some time ago, I will need to revisit that.

    I went straight to symphony 9 and was quickly turned off; it's taken at a break neck speed (the end of the final movement is also truncated) and not in a good way like the Charles Munch RCA stereo recording, which is brisk but also fantastic to listen to. The rest of the cycle is very good, but very Toscanini. It's in my reference list mostly for performance but partly for historical significance as well.

    Certainly a romantic performance and many tender moments that doesn't rely on pure virtuosity to show it off, which Serkin is not lacking in anyway. Absolutely one of the best I have heard.

    [​IMG]

    I do have the Ivan Fischer SACD and if I recall it's one of the better Mahler recordings he has made. It has been some time since I have heard it so I can't be more detailed than that. I like the Reiner you mention and Abbado with Lucerne or BPO and Szell/Cleveland as well.
     
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  19. hvbias

    hvbias Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeast
    While on Serkin, this is one of the Serkin discs that made me fall in love with his playing and what I thought of when the big Sony box was announced, that was a box I was very excited to hear was coming out. I normally wait some time to find a good deal, but I picked this one up shortly after.

    [​IMG]

    Since getting the box I may well prefer this performance from the early 50s.

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Due to a mix up with the carrier used to deliver my Amazon Serkin box, I was able to get mine for free. :cool:
     
  21. hvbias

    hvbias Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeast
    :eek: Amazon have done this for me, but for much cheaper vinyl albums.

    I mentioned Rubinstein and Hank Drake in my post, instead of editing the post I'll leave the article here for those that haven't read it: Memoirs of an Amnesiac: Rubinstein Revisited

    I completely agree with him about his failing use of pianissimo in some of those later recordings (Horowitz suffers the same thing in some later concert recordings), one of those objective observations by Mr Drake that is spot on.
     
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  22. hvbias

    hvbias Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeast
    Big thank you to @Marzz for letting me hear the Gieseking Tempest Sonata. I liked this, the real highlight of this performance is the third movement where he really brings out the color and plays it at a thrilling pace. So from everything I've heard from Gieseking I certainly like him much more with Beethoven (there is another Naxos Historical disc with more Beethoven) than the impressionist French composers; I think he is still just a touch too romantic/old fashioned for the coolness they require but I can see why at the time he would have been seen as a "straight" pianist. And I tried to like his later DGG recordings of JS Bach but they did nothing for me, there is simply too much good Bach keyboard recordings out there to try and keep listening to it. IMHO I personally like this performance more than Schnabel, I would have preferred had the first and third movement repeats be taken. As usual excellent transfers by Ward Marston with no blunting of the piano tone, definitely a disc I will be adding to the wish list.

    Serkin's Op. 110 fresh in my mind from last night (last set of unreleased recordings from the Sony box). I would have loved to hear him play Op. 31/2!

    [​IMG]

    Rest of my listening for today was Ekaterina Derzhavina's Goldberg Variations (my personal favorite tied with Gould's 80s) and CD 37, 38 from Gardiner JS Bach Cantatas box (BWV 179, 199, 113, 69a, 35, 137).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  23. JuniorMaineGuide

    JuniorMaineGuide Forum Resident

    I have been really digging the well-tempered clavier on organ recently, performed by Louis Thiry:

    [​IMG]

    Does anyone know if the organ version is considered a transcription, or is the score playable as-is on the organ?

    I am seriously liking Louis Thiry’s, but does anyone have any other recommendations for WTC on organ? Thanks.
     
  24. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    [​IMG]

    Here's something you won't get in the new Arrau complete box set! A 1963 recital from Arrau, in very nice sound. Enjoying this now.
     
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  25. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Sorry, I'm piano only.
     

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