Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Wilhelm Backhaus Plays Brahms

For seven decades Wilhelm Backhaus was a potent presence on the world’s concert stages, the very epitome of the German pianist. In one respect, at least, his colossal technique, he towered above all his Austro- German contemporaries. He was said to have all the Chopin Etudes at his fingertips, and to play any Bach Prelude and Fugue on demand, transposed to any key. Not until the very end of his long life did anyone leave a Backhaus concert saying : “Yes, there were lots of wrong notes, but...” With Backhaus there were no ifs or buts, and no interpretative half-measures. His masculine approach to Mozart was not always liked, and, similarly, he could seem too unyielding in Chopin. But he was admired in Liszt, Schumann and Rachmaninov in his younger days, and his crazy rugged personality made him a magnificent performer of Bach, Haydn, Beethoven and, above all, Brahms, to whom he brought a gruff warmth which was well suited to the old North German curmudgeon. Backhaus himself was not from the north, but was born (on 26 March 1884) and brought up in Leipzig. At four he was picking out tunes on the piano, and from the age of five he was studying it seriously — first privately and later at the Conservatory with Alois Reckendorf from 1894 to 1898. In January 1895 he came to know Brahms personally, through attending a concert at the Gewandhaus in which Eugen d’Albert played both the Brahms concertos with the composer conducting. In 1898 he when to Frankfurt to study with D’Albert for a year. By the turn of the century Backhaus commanded a dozen concertos and some 300 solo pieces, including his own transcriptions. His concert debut took place in 1899, and two years later he made his first appearance at the Gewandhaus playing Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto with Artur Nikisch conducting. Backhaus also made in debut in London in 1901 performing Mendelssohn’s First Concerto at the Proms under Sir Henry Wood, who recalled “this fair-headed, shy boy” giving remarkable performances of Strauss’s Burleske and Pick-Mangiagalli’s Sortilegi. By 1902 the Brahms’s Second Concerto was in Backhaus’s repertoire, and in 1903 he performed it under Hans Richter who had often conducted it with the composer himself as soloist. (Backhaus was a regular visitor to Britain, and taught at the Royal Manchester College of Music from 1904 to 1908.) In 1905 Backhaus was the recipient of the Anton Rubinstein Prize in Paris (over Béla Bartók), and in 1910 he made the first of many appearances with the Vienna Philharmonic. Backhaus made his North American debut on 5 January 1912 in Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto with the New York Symphony Orchestra under Walter Damrosch. While in the U.S. from 1912 to 1914 he took part in the first American Brahms Festival...
Tully Potter, from the booklet

Wilhelm Backhaus
Plays
Johannes Brahms
(1833-1897)

Tracks

Cd. 1

Piano Concerto n° 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
1 I. Maestoso  19:08
2 II. Adagio  12:40
3 III. Allegro non troppo  10:55

4 Scherzo in E-Flat Minor, Op. 4  7:33
5 Ballade in D Minor 'Edward', Op. 10, n° 1  3:56
6 Ballade in D Major, Op. 10, n° 2  4:49

Three Waltzes, Op. 39
7 N° 1 in B Major  0:42
8 N° 2 in E Major  1:17
9 N° 15 in A-Flat Major  1:38

Two Hungarian Dances
10 N° 6 in D-Flat Major  2:41
11 N° 7 in A Major  1:32

*


Cd. 2

Piano Concerto n° 2 in B-Flat Major, Op. 83
1 I. Allegro non troppo  16:01
2 II. Allegro appassionato  8:00
3 III. Andante  11:49
4 IV. Allegretto grazioso  9:02

Variations on an Original Theme in D Major, Op. 21 n° 1
5 Thema. Poco larghetto, poco forte, molto espressivo e legato  1:00
6 Var. I. Molto piano e legato  0:29
7 Var. II. Più moto, espressivo  0:31
8 Var. III. Dolce  0:30
9 Var. IV. Dolce  0:25
10 Var. V. Tempo di tema, Canone in moto contrario, molto dolce, teneramente  0:39
11 Var. VI. Più moto, espressivo, legato  0:23
12 Var. VII. Andante con moto, dolce  0:30
13 Var. VIII. Allegro non troppo  0:22
14 Var. IX. -  0:37
15 Var. X. Espressivo agitato  0:34
16 Var. XI. Tempo di tema, poco più lento, dolce  3:00

Variations on a Theme by Paganini, Op.35
(Book. I)
17 Thema. Non troppo Presto  0:28
18 Var. I  0:25
19 Var. II  0:26
20 Var. III  0:26
21 Var. IV  0:48
22 Var. V  0:20
23 Var. VI  0:15
24 Var. VII  0:24
25 Var. VIII  0:30
26 Var. IX  0:55
27 Var. X  0:38
28 Var. XI. Andante  1:18
29 Var. XII  0:48
30 Var. XIII  0:30
31 Var. XIV. Allegro  0:37
(Book. I)
32 Var. I  0:39
33 Var. II. Poco Animato  0:17
34 Var. III  0:18
35 Var. IV. Poco Allegretto  0:48
36 Var. V  0:14
37 Var. VI. Poco più vivace  0:15
38 Var. VII  0:19
39 Var. VIII. Allegro  0:27
40 Var. IX  0:24
41 Var. X. Veloce, energico  0:26
42 Var. XI. Vivace  0:17
43 Var. XII. Un poco Andante  0:47
44 Var. XIII. Un poco più Andante  0:44
45 Var. XIV. Presto, ma non troppo  1:16

*


Cd. 3

Waltzes, Op. 39
1 N° 1 in B Major  0:46
2 N° 2 in E Major  1:13
3 N° 3 in G-Sharp Minor  0:43
4 N° 4 in E Minor  0:30
5 N° 5 in E Major  1:01
6 N° 6 in C-Sharp Major  0:53
7 N° 7 in C-Sharp Minor  1:11
8 N° 8 in B-Flat Major  0:35
9 N° 9 in D Minor  0:50
10 N° 10 in G Major  0:29
11 N° 11 in B Minor  0:40
12 N° 12 in E Major  0:49
13 N° 13 in B Major  0:26
14 N° 14 in G-Sharp Minor  0:36
15 N° 15 in A-Flat Major  1:19
16 N° 16 in C-Sharp Minor  1:09

17 Capriccio in B Minor, Op. 76, n° 2  2:42
18 Intermezzo in A Minor, Op. 76, n° 7  2:05
19 Capriccio in C Major, Op. 76, n° 8  2:37
20 Rhapsody in B Minor, Op. 79, n° 1  8:01
21 Rhapsody in G Minor, Op. 79, n° 2  4:05
22 Capriccio in D Minor, Op. 116, n° 1  1:51
23 Intermezzo in A Minor, Op. 116, n° 2  2:42
24 Intermezzo in E Major, Op. 116, n° 4  4:12
25 Intermezzo in E-Flat Major, Op. 117, n° 1  4:30
26 Intermezzo in B-Flat Minor, Op. 117, n° 2  3:32
27 Intermezzo in A Minor, Op. 118, n° 1  0:51
28 Intermezzo in A Major, Op. 118, n° 2  3:51
29 Ballade in G Minor, Op. 118, n° 3  3:21
30 Intermezzo in F Minor, Op. 118, n° 4  1:51
31 Romance in F Major, Op. 118, n° 5  3:03
32 Intermezzo in E-Flat Minor, Op. 118, n° 6  4:07
33 Intermezzo in B Minor, Op. 119, n° 1  3:40
34 Intermezzo in E Minor, Op. 119, n° 2  4:12
35 Intermezzo in C Major, Op. 119, n° 3  1:20

*

Wilhem Backhaus - p
BBC Symphony Ochestra/Adrian Boult - cond. [# Cd. 1, # 1-3]
Saxon State Orchestra/Karl Böhm - cond. [Cd. 2, # 1-4]

Recorded between November 19, 1929 & June 1939

See the complete artwork

6 comments:

Pedro del Castillo Alonso said...

Hi,
Great post!!
Thanks Mel
Pedro

rubingould said...

Thank you so much, Mel!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much MM for keeping this great history in the loop.

musician3 said...

Thank You For All

anders said...

thanks and praises mel, you make this dark world of ours brighter / a

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