Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wilhelm Backhaus Plays Beethoven

When we listen to these recordings, all but one of them recorded in stereo, we should remember that the man we are hearing knew Brahms -though not well ; there was, after all, a gap of half a century in their respective ages). He was also the first pianist ever to record the Grieg Concerto, whose composer he also knew. When he made his first recording in 1907, Mahler, Debussy and Rimsky-Korsakov were all alive and active. He came, in short, from a time and culture very different from our own. Yet listening to him today, there is no sense of dislocation, no sense of a yawning gulf between us. Beyond a few very minor stylistic traits (the frequent but never indiscriminate desynchronising of the hands, octave doublings in the bass, flexible tempi, and so on), the performances sound remarkably contemporary. Not is there anything to suggest, in terms either of pianism or interpretative character, that the man at the keyboard was anywhere from seventy-four to eighty-five years old. Yet with the sole exception of Op. 106, this was the case — and many of the finest performances were among the last.
Well before the end of his long life, Backhaus was identified, first and foremost, with Beethoven, to whom he was widely felt to bear a striking physical resemblance. It had not always been so. Born in 1884 and brought up in Leipzig, Backhaus was regarded by many in his lifetime as the quintessential German pianist ; sober, scrupulous, intellectually inclined, strong but seldom charming, technically commanding but a stranger to bravura display. The truth was more complex. A the age of sixteen he had a working repertoire of more than a dozen concertos, as well as some three hundred solo works, and could play almost any Bach prelude and fugue on demand, spontaneously transposing it into any key. Quite un-Germanci was an apparently infallible virtuoso technique which he frequently applied, in his youth, to the music of Liszt and Rachmaninov, and to innumerable virtuoso transcriptions, many of them his own. To the end of his days, there was almost nothing which he couldn't play with relative ease, and he housed in his memory most of the known piano literature. Yet he was amongst the least flamboyant performers who ever lived.
Jeremy Siepmann, from the booklet

Wilhelm Backhaus
Plays
Beethoven
(1770-1827)

The 32 Piano Sonatas

Tracks

Cd. 1

Sonata n° 1 in F minor, Op. 2 n° 1
1 I. Allegro  3:01
2 II. Adagio  3:55
3 III. Menuetto & Trio: Allegretto  2:21
4 IV. Prestissimo  3:46

Sonata n° 2 in A major, Op. 2 n° 2
5 I. Allegro vivace  4:54
6 II. Largo appassionato  4:57
7 III. Scherzo & Trio (Minor): Allegretto  2:45
8 IV. Rondo: Grazioso  6:15

Sonata n° 3 in C major, Op. 2 n° 3
9 I. Allegro con brio  7:19
10 II. Adagio  5:52
11 III. Scherzo & Trio: Allegro  3:01
12 IV. Allegro assai  5:24

Sonata n° 5 in C minor, Op. 10 n° 1
13 I. Allegro molto e con brio  4:05
14 II. Adagio molto  5:50
15 III. Finale: Prestissimo  3:18

*

Cd. 2

Sonata n° 4 in E-flat major, Op. 7
1 I. Allegro molto e con brio  6:17
2 II. Largo, con gran espressione  6:06
3 III. Allegro & Minore  3:48
4 IV. Rondo: Poco allegretto e grazioso  6:34

Piano Sonata n° 6 in F major, Op. 10 n° 2
5 I. Allegro  4:24
6 II. Allegretto  3:24
7 III. Presto  2:19

Piano Sonata n° 7 in D major, Op. 10 n° 3
8 I. Presto  4:52
9 II. Largo e mesto  6:33
10 III. Menuetto (Allegro)  2:33
11 IV. Rondo (Allegro)  4:01

Piano Sonata n° 8 in C minor, Op.13
"Pathétique"
12 I. Grave - Allegro di molto e con brio  6:13
13 II. Adagio cantabile  4:47
14 III. Rondo (Allegro)  4:28

*

Cd. 3

Sonata n° 9 in E major, Op. 14 n° 1
1 I. Allegro  4:31
2 II. Allegretto & Maggiore  3:10
3 III. Rondo: Allegro comodo  3:25

Piano Sonata n° 10 in G major, Op. 14 n° 2
4 I. Allegro  4:56
5 II. Andante  5:28
6 III. Scherzo: Allegro assai  3:19

Piano Sonata n° 11 in B-flat, Op. 22
7 I. Allegro con brio  5:40
8 II. Adagio con molto espressione  7:08
9 III. Menuetto  3:07
10 IV. Rondo: Allegretto  5:35

Piano Sonata n° 12 in A-flat, Op. 26
11 I. Andante con variazioni  7:05
12 II. Scherzo & Trio: Allegro molto  2:38
13 III. Marcia funebre: sulla morte d'un Eroe  5:11
14 IV. Allegro  2:48

*


Cd. 4

Sonata n° 13 in E-flat major, Op. 27 n° 1
Sonata quasi una fantasia
1 I. Andante — Allegro — Tempo I  4:51
2 II. Allegro molto e vivace —  2:08
3 III. Adagio con espressione —  2:12
4 IV. Allegro vivace Tempo I (Adagio con espressione) — Presto  5:19

Sonata n° 14 in C-Sharp minor, Op. 27 n° 2 "Moonlight"
Sonata quasi una fantasia
5 I. Adagio sostenuto — 5:42
6 III. Allegretto & Trio  2:17
7 III. Presto  7:21

Sonata n° 15 in D major, Op. 28 "Pastorale"
8 I. Allegro  6:42
9 II. Andante  6:23
10 III. Scherzo & Trio: Allegro vivace  1:50
11 IV. Rondo: Allegro, ma non troppo — Più allegro quasi presto  4:10

Sonata n° 16 in G major, Op. 31 n° 1
12 I. Allegro vivace  4:57
13 II. Adagio grazioso  8:17
14 III. Rondo: Allegretto — Presto  6:10

*


Cd. 5

Sonata n° 17 in D minor, Op. 31 n° 2 "Tempest"
1 I. Largo — Allegro  8:27
2 II. Adagio  6:15
3 III. Allegretto  6:27

Sonata n° 18 in E-flat major, Op. 31 n° 3
4 I. Allegro  6:14
5 II. Scherzo: Allegretto vivace  3:43
6 III. Menuetto & Tri: Moderato e grazioso  4:03
7 IV. Presto con fuoco  4:46

Sonata n° 19 in G minor, Op. 49 n° 1
Leichte Sonate
8 I. Andante  3:28
9 II. Rondo: Allegro  3:28

Sonata n° 20 in G major, Op. 49 n° 2
Leichte Sonate
10 I. Allegro, ma non troppo  2:58
11 II. Tempo di menuetto  3:12

Sonata n° 21 in C major, Op. 53 "Waldstein"
12 I. Allegro con brio  8:48
13 II. Introduzione: Adagio molto —  3:12
14 III. Rondo: Allegretto moderato — Prestissimo  9:41

*


Cd. 6

Sonata n° 22 in F major, Op. 54
1 I. In tempo d'un menuetto  5:15
2 II. Allegretto — Più allegro  5:12

Sonata n° 23 in F minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata"
3 I. Allegro assai  9:32
4 II. Andante con moto — 5:55
5 III. Allegro ma non troppo — Presto  5:26

Sonata n° 24 in F-sharp major, Op. 78
6 I. Adagio cantabile — Allegro ma non troppo  6:46
7 II. Allegro vivace  3:11
Sonata n° 25 in G major, Op. 79
Sonatine
8 I. Presto alla tedesca  4:16
9 II. Andante  2:53
10 III. Vivace  1:49

Sonata n° 26 in E-flat, Op. 81a "Les adieux"
11 I. Das Lebewohl: Adagio — Allegro  6:56
12 II. Abwesenheit: Andante espressivo  3:07
13 III. Das Wiedersehen: Vivacissimamente — Poco andante — Tempo I  6:04

*


Cd. 7

Sonata n° 27 in E minor, Op. 90
1 I. Mit Lebhaftigkeit und durchaus mit Empfindung und Ausdruck  5:03
2 II. Nicht zu geschwind und sehr singbar vorgetragen  7:34

Sonata n° 28 in A, Op. 101
3 I. Etwas lebhaft und mit der innigsten Empfindung (Allegretto ma non troppo)  3:12
4 II. Lebhaft, marschmäßig (Vivace alla marcia)  6:03
5 III. Langsam und sehnsuchtsvoll (Adagio ma non troppo, con affetto)/
Geschwind, doch nicht zu sehr und mit Entschlossenheit (Allegro)  9:30

Sonata n° 29 in B-flat, Op. 106 "Hammer-klavier"
6 I. Allegro  11:45
7 II. Scherzo: Assai vivace — Presto — Prestissimo — Tempo I  2:38
8 III. Adagio sostenuto  16:32
9 IV. Largo — Allegro risoluto  11:01

*


Cd. 8

Sonata n° 30 in E major, Op. 109
1 I. Vivace, ma non troppo — Adagio espressivo —  5:13
2 II. Prestissimo  7:55
3 III. Gesangvoll, mit innigster Empfindung (Andante molto cantabile ed espressivo) —
Variation I: Molto espressivo —
Variation II: Leggiermente —
Variation III: Allegro vivace —
Variation IV: Etwas langsamer als das Thema —
Variation V: Allegro, ma non troppo —
Variation VI: Tempo I del tema  4:32

Sonata n° 31 in A-flat major, Op. 110
4 I. Moderato cantabile molto espressivo  5:22
5 II. Allegro molto  2:04
6 III. Adagio ma non troppo: Klagender Gesang (Arioso dolente) —  2:51
7 IV. Fuga: Allegro ma non troppo — L'istesso tempo di Arioso —
L'istesso tempo della Fuga  6:07

Sonata n° 32 in C minor, Op. 111
8 I. Maestoso — Allegro con brio ed appassionato  8:14
9 II. Arietta: Adagio molto semplice e cantabile  13:09

*

Wilhelm Backhaus - p

Recorded at Victoria Hall, Geneva & Sofiensaal, Vienna ; between April 1952 & April 1969

See the complete artwork

2 comments:

Ананасий Непитин said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ананасий Непитин said...

BTW, dear Mel, Thang Nguyen has also published Backhaus' renditions of Brahms on 3 Biddulph restoration CDs, but added also disc with Beethoven concertos (Nos. 4 & 5, both with LSO under the baton of Landon Ronald).
vis https://classicalpippo9.com/2016/01/28/backhaus-plays-brahms-beethoven-collection-4cds/