Sunday, October 30, 2016

Mischa Levitzki - Complete Recordings (1923-1938)

Mischa Levitzki (1898-1941) was one of the most popular American pianists of his era. He made quite a few recordings prior to his sudden death from a heart attack at age 42, and the first installment of Naxos’ three-disc Levitzki series encompasses the pianist’s complete acoustic discs for Columbia, his two electrical sides for the label, and six titles from his (relatively) extensive HMV output. Among the acoustic selections, the Chopin G-Flat and E minor Waltzes are charmingly stylish (and so is the latter in a previously unpublished, early electrical test pressing) in contrast to Levitzki’s heavy-handed treatment of the same composer’s “Black Key” and “Aeolian Harp” Etudes. Though Moskowski’s "La Jongleuse" and the Gluck/Brahms Gavotte are well-played, discerning consumers in the 1920s would have been better off with Josef Hofmann’s versions, or Ignaz Friedman’s more lusciously contoured Gluck/Brahms.
The 1925 Columbia Liszt "La Campanella" is a bit lumpy and pedestrian next to Levitzki’s two HMV remakes (stay tuned for further volumes). On the other hand, I prefer this elegant and polished acoustic Liszt Sixth Rhapsody over Levitzki’s better-known HMV electrical version, mainly for its broader and weightier introduction. Both the acoustic and electrical Schubert/Tausig "Marche Militaire" recordings are here. The earlier version (originally spread out over two 10-inch sides) observes all the repeats, whereas the remake omits a few, no doubt in order to squeeze the whole work onto a single 12-inch side.
From a 1927 session, the Bach/Liszt A minor Prelude and Fugue BWV 462 reveals Levitzki’s art at its most tonally polished and poised, complementing the more dynamic and vigorous recording Percy Grainger made four years later. Marston’s clean and careful transfers uphold his usual high standard, although Bryan Crimp’s quiter restorations of the HMV material (reissued on APR) seem to have slightly more amplitude and presence. Then again, APR costs more than Naxos. I look forward to volumes two and three.
Jed Distler

Source : http://www.classicstoday.com/review/review-8775/

Mischa Levitzki
Complete Recordings
(1923-1938)

American Columbia Acoustic Recordings
(1923-1924)

Cd. 1

Christoph Willibald von Gluck
(1714-1787)

1 Mélodie from Orfeo (Gavotte from Iphigénie en Aulide)  3:56
(arr. Sgambati)

Franz Schubert
(1797-1828)

2 Marche Militaire in D major, D. 733 n° 1 (Op. 51 n° 1) [Two versions]  6:05
(arr. Tausig)

Felix Mendelssohn
(1809-1847)

3 Frühlingslied (Song Without Words, n° 30 in A major, Op. 62 n° 6)  2:53

Frédéric Chopin
(1810-1849)

4 Waltz in E minor, KK IVa,15  3:08
5 Waltz n° 11 in G-Flat major, Op. 70 n° 1  1:50
6 Etude n° 5 in G-Flat major, Op. 10 n° 5  1:35
7 Etude n° 13 in A-Flat major, Op. 25 n° 1  2:49

Moritz Moszkowski
(1854-1925)

8 La Jongleuse (Etude for piano, Op. 52 n° 4)  1:39

Franz Liszt
(1811-1886)

9 Hungarian Rhapsody, n° 6 in D-Flat major, S. 244 n° 6  8:09

Mischa Levitzki
(1898-1941)

10 Valse de Concert, Op. 1  3:46
11 Waltz in A Major, Op. 2  1:38

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky
(1840-1893)

12 November. Troika en traineaux (The Seasons, Op. 37)  2:43

*

American Columbie Electric Recordings
(1924-1925)

Frédéric Chopin
(1810-1849)

13 Waltz n° 14 in E Minor, Op. posth.  2:51

Franz Liszt
(1811-1886)

14 La Campanella, etude for piano in B minor (Transcendental Paganini Etude, n° 3), S. 140 n° 3  4:58

Johann Sebastian Bach
(1685-1750)

Prelude & Fugue in A minor (after Bach BWV 543), S. 462
(arr. Liszt)
15 Prelude  3:22
16 Fugue  5:56

Domenico Scarlatti
(1685-1757)

17 Sonata in A major K113  3:24

Christoph Willibald von Gluck
(1714-1787)

18 Gavotte (Iphigénie en Aulide, Wq. 40)  3:16
(arr. Brahms)

Ludwig van Beethoven
(1770-1827)

19 Ecossaise in E-Flat major, WoO 86  2:27

Franz Schubert
(1797-1828)

20 Marche Militaire in D major, D. 733 n° 1 (Op. 51 n° 1)  4:55

Felix Mendelssohn
(1809-1847)

21 Rondo capriccioso in E major, Op. 14  6:12

*

Mischa Levitzki - p

Recorded between 1923 & 1933

*

Clearly it was Levitzki’s increasingly successful performances and recordings that encouraged HMV to increase its commitment to his discography. Born in 1898 and a student of Alexander Michalowski at the Warsaw Conservatory Levitzki later settled in America where he studied with Sigismund Stojowski. In 1913 an initially distrustful von Dohnányi relented and took him on as a pupil at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik. His New York debut followed in 1916 and he made an extensive Australasian tour in 1921 followed closely by celebrity trips across Asia. He was one of the most fêted of the pianists popular in central Europe but his London debut had to wait until 1927 — and the first of his HMV discs followed soon after.
In 1929 he recorded the Liszt E-Flat major concerto with house accompanist Landon Ronald and the LSO. This was a recording notable for the forward sounding winds and for Levitzki’s zesty and triumphant passagework. In the opening movement there are opportunities to listen to the old style clarinet playing and to leader W.H. Reed’s solo playing as indeed there are in the "Quasi Adagio" where the tonal profile of the orchestra is decidedly old fashioned in sound. Levitzki meanwhile is full of drive and animation. A few years later he recorded the Schumann G minor Sonata (N° 2) — an attractive though not especially affectionate performance though one that does stress the intimate qualities of the music. His Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies are forthright and frequently brashly glittering. We’re fortunate that we get takes one and four of his 1928 "La Campanella" ; the first take was originally selected but the pianist subsequently requested that take four should be used instead.
Horowitz always ran Levitzki down as an artisan ("awful…just fingers") but enough evidence exists to show that he was more than a mere technician. The transfers here are excellent and highlight Levitzki’s jewelled treble and that fabulous trill in the slow movement of the Liszt.
Jonathan Woolf

Source : http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Jan04/Levitzki_vol2.htm
 
Cd. 2

Gramophone Recordings
(1927-1933)

Robert Schumann
(1810-1856)

Piano Sonata n° 2 in G minor, Op. 22
1 I. So rasch wie möglich  4:43
2 II. Andantino. Getragen  4:39
3 III. Scherzo. Sehr rasch und markiert  1:43
4 IV. Rondo. Presto  5:39

Franz Liszt
(1811-1886)

Piano Concerto n° 1 in E-Flat Major, S. 124
5 I. Allegro maestoso  4:54
6 II. Quasi adagio  4:31
7 III. Allegro vivace  4:10
8 IV. Allegro marziale animato  4:28

9 Hungarian Rhapsody n° 6 in D-Flat major, S. 244  n° 6  7:25
10 Hungarian Rhapsody n° 12 in C-Sharp minor (aka 'N° 2'), S. 244  n° 12  9:07
11 Hungarian Rhapsody n° 13 in A Minor, S. 244 n° 13  9:03
12 3 Études de concert, S. 144 - N° 3 in D-Flat major ('Un sospiro')  4:54
13 La Campanella, etude for piano in B minor (Transcendental Paganini Etude n° 3), S. 140 n° 3  4:58
14 La Campanella, etude for piano in B minor (Transcendental Paganini Etude n° 3), S. 140 n° 3  4:53
[2nd version]

Moritz Moszkowski
(1854-1925)

15 La Jongleuse, Etude, Op. 52 n° 4  1:37

Mischa Levitzki
(1898-1941)

16 Waltz in A Major, Op. 2 'Valse d'amour'  1:40

*

Mischa Levitzki - p
London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Landon Ronald - dir. [# 5-8]

Recorded between 1927 & 1933

*

It’s a measure of Levitzki’s short life that his entire commercial recordings fill something less than three CDs. This is the last of them and it includes, as well as a Chopin series (and some Rubinstein and Rachmaninov), some rarities in the form of two 1935 broadcasts.
What’s become clear over the course of listening to his legacy is quite how erratic he could be and that’s no less the case here ; in fact the 1928-29 Chopin discs demonstrates the fact quite graphically. He highlights and accents with highly idiosyncratic results — try the C major Prelude — and plenty of rubato or can be really rather over dreamy (as with the companion Prelude here, in A major). But his Waltz in A-Flat major is both witty and vibrant, even if that in G-Flat major comes to a near standstill. His outbursts can be rather predictable and tend toward rhythmic instability — the mountainous and eruptive quality that he evinces also tends sometimes to sound hectic (Ballade n° 3). This is true in the C minor Nocturne where for all the nobility of his rolled chords, when Levitzki gets going he certainly does get going ; he’s very quick, loses a certain amount of control and ironically and crucially, vitiates tension and a sense of swelling drama through this very sense of eruptive speed. For Levitzki, one sometimes feels, drama was a local event, too often unrelated to surrounding material — and too often emerging as disjunct and undisciplined. So for all the finesse and animation, views of his Chopin are decidedly mixed ; take the Polonaise in A-Flat for example. It’s genuinely terpsichorean and unlike many pianists he doesn’t put it under too much pedal to hide technical flaws ; rhythm is vivacious but there are a few "blank" moments where one feels a want of colouristic imagination, almost as if he doesn’t know what to do with some passages ; the excellent co-exists with the bland. But the end is brilliantly conceived.
We have a couple of his own pieces recorded in 1938 for RCA Victor and then the earlier 1935 broadcasts, really rare survivors these. In them we have some prices to be paid. He reprises pieces well known from his commercial discography — the biggest is the A-Flat major Ballade which is somewhat slower than the earlier commercial recording. We have the additional liability of inane announcers (in one case talking over Levitzki’s playing — shame on NBC !) and a bad pitch drop in the C-Sharp minor Waltz. The sound deteriorates in the extract from the Saint-Saëns — especially the orchestral sound — but elsewhere it’s perfectly serviceable (even if there’s a degree of "spread") for its vintage and circumstances. These are valuable retrievals though they don’t in all honesty add much to our appreciation of his musicianship.
Admirers of the pianist should certainly keep faith with Levitzki. He is erratic but full of personality and the commercial transfers have depth and are convincing. Comparison with APR’s Levitzki series is nip and tuck and I wouldn’t necessarily always prefer Naxos – but their price is tempting and they have the advantage of those ultra rare broadcasts.
Jonathan Woolf

Source : http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Sept04/Levitzki3.htm


Cd. 3

Tracks

Gramophone & RCA Victor Recordings
(1927-1938)

Frédéric Chopin
(1810-1849)

1 Prelude in C Major, Op. 28, n° 1  0:55
2 Prelude in a Major, Op. 28, n° 7  0:55
3 Prelude in F Major, Op. 28, n° 23  1:26
4 Waltz n° 8 in A-Flat Major, Op. 64, n° 3  3:01
5 Waltz n° 11 in G-Flat Major, Op. 70, n° 1  2:27
6 Ballade n° 3 in A-Flat Major, Op. 47  6:29
7 Nocturne n° 5 in F-Sharp Major, Op. 15, n° 2  3:50
8 Nocturne n° 13 in C Minor, Op. 48, n° 1  5:05
9 Polonaise n° 6 in A-Flat Major, Op. 53, 'Heroic'  6:50
10 Scherzo n° 3 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 39  6:03

Anton Rubinstein
(1829-1894)

11 Etude in C Major, Op. 23, n° 2, 'Staccato Etude'  4:20

Serguei Rachmaninov
(1873-1943)

12 Prelude in G Minor, Op. 23, n°  5  3:26

RCA Victor, 1938

Mischa Levitzki
(1898-1941)

13 Waltz in A Major, Op. 2 'Valse d'amour'  1:46
14 Arabesque Valsante, Op. 6  3:23

Broadcasts 26th January, 1935

Frédéric Chopin
(1810-1849)

15 Opening Announcement  0:56
16 Ballade n° 3 in A-Flat Major, Op. 47  7:08
17 Waltz n° 7 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 64, n° 2  3:45
18 Etude in G-Flat Major, Op. 10, n° 5, 'Black Key'  1:38
19 Prelude in A Major, Op. 28, n° 7  1:07

Camille Saint-Saëns
(1835-1921)

Piano Concerto n° 2 in G Minor, Op. 22
[fragments]
20 II. Allegro scherzando  6:30

Mischa Levitzki
(1898-1941)

21 14 Arabesque Valsante, Op. 6  3:36

Frédéric Chopin
(1810-1849)

22 18 Etude in G-Flat Major, Op. 10, n° 5, 'Black Key'  1:52

*

Mischa Levitzki - p
Ford Symphony Orchestra/Victor Kolar - dir. [# 20]

Recorded between 1927 & 1938 [# 1-14] ; & Live broadcast material from 1935 [# 15-20]

5 comments:

Melanchthon said...

Cd. 1
http://www111.zippyshare.com/v/KNB5Kq62/file.html
http://www111.zippyshare.com/v/yDmsp3x7/file.html
http://www111.zippyshare.com/v/gJ97ZDx3/file.html

Cd. 2
http://www111.zippyshare.com/v/OBhb5rUB/file.html
http://www111.zippyshare.com/v/vfALiLVl/file.html

Cd. 3
http://www111.zippyshare.com/v/4UAlB59T/file.html
http://www111.zippyshare.com/v/QCH98dCB/file.html

Pedro del Castillo Alonso said...

Hi,
OMG! Thank you very much Mel
Pedro

rev.b said...

Looking forward to this. Thanks Mel!

JLJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JLJ said...

Many thanks !
I was looking for Levitzki for a loong time !

Thank you also so much for having reuploaded Moiseiwitsch :
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Benno Moiseiwitsch Plays Schumann, Grieg & Palmgren

Jean-Louis