Old Wine, New Bottles | Fine Old Recordings Re-Released Ignaz Friedman Complete Recordings (1923-1941) Ignaz Friedman Danacord DACOCD861-864 (naxosdirect.com) ! Ignaz Friedman was born in Podgórze, near Kraków in 1882. His prodigious abilities were apparent and he studied with Hugo Riemann in Leipzig. He entered the class of the renowned pedagogue, Theodore Leschetizky in Vienna. “Under Leschetizky he developed a technique surpassing all others and in 1904 made his concert debut that became the stuff of legends.” In 1914 he settled in Berlin where there is a plaque in Pariser Strasse that commemorates his stay in the city. He toured in Europe and America until 1914 when the outbreak of war found him touring in Australia where he remained, enjoying a successful career, there and in New Zealand, as a teacher and performer. He was married to a Russian Countess, Manya Schidlowsky, a relative of Tolstoy. Friedman was deservedly acknowledged by critics including Harold C. Schonberg and colleagues, Sergei Rachmaninoff and others, as pianistamong-pianists. He died on Australia Day, January 28, 1948. Friedman was an editor and a composer with several of his compositions heard here meticulously restored, as are all entries in the set Ignaz Friedman Complete Recordings from the LP years, 1923-1941 (six cds for the price of three). When I was quite young, the usual, most-expressed evaluation of a neighbours’ child playing our piano was he or she “has a nice touch.” Those two words seemed to cover the situation quite nicely and pleased the proud parent. Back to the present. In these recordings, in gentle passages, there is often the illusion that Friedman is able play the notes without striking the keys. Now, that is a “nice touch.” This is not to say that this quality is omnipresent but it is there often enough across the 87 tracks on the six discs. Included are works by Scarlatti, Mozart, Widor, Beethoven (Moonlight Sonata) Schubert, and lots of Chopin (Mazurkas. Waltzes, Polonaises, etc.), for which he was renowned. Also Mendelssohn (Songs without Words), Gluck, Brahms, Hummel, Paganini, Liszt, Dvořák, Grieg, Rubinstein, Moszkowski, Paderewski, Suk, Mittler, and, of course, Ignaz Friedman. Bronislaw Huberman is heard in the Kreutzer Sonata. I put disc one in the player with but a cursory look at the contents and was so enamored that I soon had no inclination to do anything else but sit back and enjoy disc two… Bruce Surtees Mozart – Serenade in B-Flat K361 Toronto Chamber Winds; Winston Webber Crystal Records CD646 (crystalrecords.com) ! In his novel Steppenwolf, Herman Hesse depicted Wolfgang Mozart as a smiling Buddha-like immortal. Peter Shaffer, in his play Amadeus, depicts him as human, a vulgar young goofball with uncanny abilities, who had a sense of his music’s importance beyond that assigned by his patrons. In the play, upon hearing the slow movement of the Serenade No.10 in B-flat Major K361”Gran Partita,” the character Antonio Salieri describes with awe the beautiful simplicity of its construction; he believes he is hearing the voice of God. His disillusion with the human form supplying that voice provides the drama for the entire play. The theme of immortality rises before me as I listen to this release: these are all voices from the past, a recording made in Massey Hall in 1982, featuring some of the finest Toronto wind players from the time. Many of them were my heroes as I grew into the profession, and some remain active today. It is also an artifact of the time when the elite musical world was a men’s club. The performance is very fine, and if it tends more toward a representation of Hesse’s Mozart than Shaffer’s, it does so with warmth and style, and with a commitment to proper performance practice. This feature makes the CD well worth owning: the research into proper articulation and ornamentation was carried out by Daniel Leeson, one of the performers and a Mozart scholar. The results are quite pleasant, and instructive as well. It’s good to hear the freedom from the page that James Campbell’s ornaments demonstrate. The virtuosic Finale: Rondo Allegro molto is packed with flurries of 16th notes articulated at blinding speed. Among the voices singing out from the recent past, I am most affected by that of Harry Sargous, at one time the principal oboe of the Toronto Symphony. If the account of the piece here has a flaw it would be that it is careful, rather than joyous. Sargous, however, seems to call out to his colleagues with his tone, and beseech them to revel in both the sacred and profane aspects of the music of this immortal fool. Max Christie Sweet summer sounds from ATMA Classique LATEST RELEASES ACD2 2785 ACD2 2789 ACD2 2816 60 | July and August 2020 thewholenote.com
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25 th SEASON! Vol 25 No 9 JULY | AU
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