Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Benno Moiseiwitsch Plays Chopin & Schumann

Benno Moiseiwitsch was a musical aristocrat. Few pianists wore their expertise more lightly or turned the art of understatement into such an elegant, fine-spun art. From Moiseiwitsch, not only the cornerstones of the repertoire (Beethoven’s Waldstein and Pathétique Sonatas or the major works of Chopin, for example) but also bonnes bouches (Palmgren’s West Finnish Dance, Weber's Moto perpetuo or John Vallier’s Toccatina, to name but three) emerged as if newly-minted yet without obvious ‘difference’, their elusive essence caught with uncanny skill and tact, their difficulties resolved by a stupendous but nonchalantly deployed technique. For pianists, this arch-sophisticate was always god-like and his admirers included his friend and compatriot Sergei Rachmaninov, Josef Hofmann (who saw him as his natural heir) and, more recently, Hofmann’s student, lorge Bolet. Bolet in particular never ceased to marvel at the distilled serenity and wisdom of Moiseiwitsch’s Schumann Fantasie or the matchless, silken dexterity of his Mendelssohn-Rachmaninov Midsummer Night’s Dream 'Scherzo'. Asked to pick just one record for their desert island, many pianists have opted for the last recording of these two, finding it the very epitome of virtuoso grace and wit. It is therefore chastening to recall that Moiseiwitsch was not always givenhis due. Critics in particular were apt to mistake his lack of ostentation for disengagement, his subtlety for coolness. Clinton Grey-Fisk’s relentless dismissal and Andrew Porter's assumption that Moiseiwitsch was essentially a ’Plum Label’ pianist (i.e. able but ordinary) could well find their way into a lexicon of critical faux-pas...
Bryce Morrison, 2001, from the booklet

Benno Moiseiwitsch
Plays
Chopin
Schumann

Tracks

Frédéric Chopin
(1810-1849)

24 Preludes, Op. 28
1 N° 1 in C major, Agitato  0:44
2 N° 2 in A minor, Lento  2:14
3 N° 3 in G major, Vivace  0:52
4 N° 4 in E minor, Largo  1:55
5 N° 5 in D major, Molto allegro  0:36
6 N° 6 in B minor, Lento assai  2:12
7 N° 7 in A major, Andantino  0:45
8 N° 8 in F-Sharp minor, Molto agitato  1:49
9 N° 9 in E major, Largo  1:35
10 N° 10 in C-Sharp minor, Molto allegro  0:30
11 N° 11 in B major, Vivace  0:46
12 N° 12 in G-Sharp minor, Presto  1:09
13 N° 13 in F-Sharp major, Lento  3:11
14 N° 14 in E-Flat minor, Allegro  0:29
15 N° 15 in D-Flat major ('Raindrop Prelude'), Sostenuto  5:43
16 N° 16 in B-Flat minor, Presto con fuoco  1:08
17 N° 17 in A-Flat major, Allegretto  3:40
18 N° 18 in F minor, Molto allegro  1:00
19 N° 19 in E-Flat major, Vivace  1:14
20 N° 20 in C minor, Largo  2:01
21 N° 21 in B-Flat major, Cantabile  2:04
22 N° 22 in G minor, Molto agitato  0:44
23 N° 23 in F major, Moderato  1:01
24 N° 24 in D minor, Allegro appassionato  2:47

Robert Schumann
(1810-1856)

Kinderszenen, Op. 15
25 I. Von Fremden Ländern und Menschen  1:35
26 II. Curiose Geschichte  0:58
27 III. Hasche-Mann  0:31
28 IV. Bittendes Kind  0:53
29 V. Glückes Genug  0:45
30 VI. Wichtige Begebenheit  0:47
31 VII. Träumerei  2:37
32 VIII. Am Camin  0:51
33 IX. Ritter Vom Steckenpferd  0:41
34 X. Fast Zu Ernst  1:46
35 XI. Fürchtenmachen  1:43
36 XII. Kind Im Einschlummern  1:58
37 XIII. Der Dichter Spricht  2:28

Carl Maria von Weber
(1786-1826)

38 Rondo. (Perpetuum mobile)  3:47
(from Piano Sonata n° 1 in C Major, Op. 24)

Sergei Rachmaninov
(1871-1941)

39 Moment Musical in E Minor, Op. 16, n° 4  2:57
40 Prelude in G Major, Op. 32, n° 5  2:41
41 Lilacs, Op. 21, n° 5  2:33
42 Prelude in B Minor, Op. 32, n° 10  4:42

Felix-Bartholdy Mendelssohn
(1809-1847)

43 Scherzo  4:10
(from A Midsummer Nights Dream, arr. Rachmaninov)

Igor Stravinsky
(1882-1971)

44 Etude in F-Sharp, Op. 7, n° 4  1:38

Sergei Prokofiev
(1891-1953)

45 Suggestion Diabolique, Op. 4, n° 4  2:46

John Vallier
(1920-1991)

46 Toccatina  1:21

*

Benno Moiseiwitsch - p

Recorded at Studio C, Small Hall Queen's Hall, London ; April 14, 1930 [# 25-37] ; at N° 3 Studio, Abbey Road, London ; December 7, 1938 [# 44] ; March 17, 1939 [# 43] ; November 3, 1940 [# 42] ; November 5, 1948 [# 41] ; December, 29 & 30, 1948 [# 1-24] ; October 25, 1950 [# 38, 45 & 46] ; & February 19, 1956 [# 39 & 40]

5 comments:

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rubingould said...

Thank you, Mel!

Anonymous said...

I just do not know what to say! You are like Father Christmas, MM! My heart filled with joy. Benno in Prokofiev and Schumann is a must-hear before one dies.

Pedro del Castillo Alonso said...

Hi,
More thanks Mel!!
Pedro

Anonymous said...

Hope i am not too intrusive on your blog, MM, - having lived for 63 years now i can express, with confidence, the two truths:
1. You only get what you give.
2. You wanna learn? - learn from The Masters, do not waste your
irreplaceable time with sub-masters.

I say with confidence - you are Magnificent Mel. The Master.
You give so much, you get so much, i hope.