Saturday, January 13, 2018

Benno Moiseiwitsch (BBC Broadcasts)

Moiseiwitsch’s sizeable commercial discography has been well-served on CD, but his relatively few preserved live concerts haven’t had the same circulation. Devotees of this distinguished pianist will heartily welcome this 3 CD set of previously unpublished material. All the musical items derive from the BBC archives, with the interviews taken from the BBC and other sources.
Like Emil Gilels, Nathan Milstein and David Oistrakh, Benno Moiseiwitsch (1890-1963) hailed from Odessa, the third largest city in the Ukraine. He was a pupil of Theodor Leschetizky, whose students included Paderewski, Schnabel, Horszowski and Brailowsky. Leschetizky, himself, had been a pupil of Carl Czerny. Moiseiwitsch’s repertoire centred on the nineteenth century Romantics, and he became particularly noted for his interpretations of Chopin, Schumann and Rachmaninov. He took British citizenship shortly before the Second World War.
From 1958 we have a broadcast recording of the ‘Waldstein’ Sonata. It’s certainly one of the finest interpretations I’ve ever heard, informed by aristocratic elegance and a sense of structure. Astutely paced, everything seems just right — tempo, phrasing and dynamics. The "Prestissimo" third movement is technically secure, with some stunning fingerwork. The pianist follows it with a glowing performance of the Andante favori, aptly chosen as it was Beethoven’s original intention for it to be the second of the three movements of the Op. 53.
On two occasions in the interviews on CD 3, the pianist discusses his special relationship with the music of Schumann and what the composer’s music means to him. The qualities he finds in it are sincerity, depth, feeling and integrity. I was pleased that we have one example of that composer’s music in the shape of Kreisleriana, a broadcast from 1961. The performance is an intoxicating blend of lyricism and passionate intensity. You feel that here is a pianist who gets to the emotional core of the music. It’s a probing account, contrasting Schumann’s dual personality — the poetic sensibilities of n° 5 (sehr lebhaft) with the feverish passion in n° 7 (sehr rasch).
I’ve always rated Moiseiwitsch’s 1945 HMV recording of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition very highly, and am grateful for the inclusion of this alternative take. It has an innate feeling of spontaneity and freshness, and there’s certainly no vestige of routine. Whilst achieving a unified conception, he brings atmosphere and character to the individual tableaux, capturing the bustling evocation of "The Market at Limoges", the capriciousness of "The Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks", and the splendid nobility of "The Great Gate of Kiev".
Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ was taped at the 8,000 seat open-air Lewisohn Stadium, with the Stadium Symphony Orchestra of New York, in fact the New York Philharmonic, under Josef Krips. Despite having an unfavourable reputation for its acoustics, especially as far as classical concerts were concerned, the performance here is sonically acceptable, though a little lacking in special depth. In the first movement Krips sets an energetic pace in the tutti. The Adagio is steeped in lyricism and is raptly intense, with a robust, spirited finale setting the seal on a compelling reading. The performance was part of a three-concert Beethoven Festival. The day prior, Michael Rabin had played the Violin Concerto. After the concert, Moiseiwitsch took the concerto to the Hollywood Bowl, another open-air venue on the West coast.
If there was one work more closely associated with the pianist than any other during his concert career it was the Paganini Rhapsody by Rachmaninov. In 1935, a year after its composition, Moiseiwitsch performed it at the Proms in London. It went down very well with the audience, and he was asked to play it for the next six seasons. In this performance with Boult and the BBC Symphony you sense a rapport between conductor and soloist ; after all, they had collaborated together on many occasions during the war. Interpretively similar to the commercial recording the pianist made in December 1938 there are some instances, as in the famous eighteenth variation, where Basil Cameron and the Liverpool Philharmonic give it more of a romantic sweep.
The included interviews offer us a hint of the character and personality of the pianist. In them he shares his thoughts on subjects such as repertoire, other pianists and colleagues and his practice methods. In the final extract from Words and Music with Jack Payne, he plays Chopin’s Ballade n° 3, dedicating it to Sir Winston Churchill and his wife who were, at that time, celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. He relates the story of how the Churchills had the piece played at their wedding. Apparently, Sir Winston always called it ‘the galloping horse’, referring to the rhythm of the second theme.
The set offers the listener a representative cross-section of the Moiseiwitsch repertoire, with these valuable live airings complementing the commercial discography. Sound quality is more than acceptable throughout. Jonathan Summers' liner contribution offers some informative insights.
Stephen Greenbank

Source :

Benno Moiseiwitsch


Cd. 1

Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Sonata n° 21 in C Majpr, Op.53 ‘Waldstein’
1 I. Allegro con brio  7:54
2 II. Introduzione. Adagio molto -  3:27
3 III. Rondo. Allegro moderato - Prestissimo  8:42

4 Andante favori in F Major, WoO57  8:04

Robert Schumann

Kreisleriana, Op. 16
8 Fantasies for piano
5 I. Äußert bewegt  2:11
6 II. Sehr innig nicht zu rasch - Intermezzo I. Sehr lebhaft -  8:02
Intermezzo II. Etwas bewegter - Langsamer (erstes Tempo)
7 III. Sehr aufgeregt  3:03
8 IV. Sehr langsam  3:18
9 V. Sehr lebhaft  3:06
10 VI. Sehr langsam  3:17
11 VII. Sehr rasch  2:06
12 VIII. Schnell und spielend  3:21

Modest Mussorgsky

Pictures at an Exhibition
13 Promenade (B-Flat major)  1:24
14 N° 1. Gnomus (E-Flat minor)  2:09
15 [Untitled] (Interlude, Promenade theme) (A-Flat major)  0:47
16 N° 2. Il vecchio castello (G-Sharp minor)  2:40
17 [Untitled] (Interlude, Promenade theme) (B major)  0:27
18 N° 3. Tuileries. Dispute d'enfants après jeux (B major)  0:48
19 N° 4. Bydło (G-Sharp minor)  1:59
20 [Untitled] (Interlude, Promenade theme) (D minor)  0:38
21 N° 5. Балет невылупившихся птенцов (F major)  1:09
22 N° 6. Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle (B-Flat major)  2:16
23 N° 7. Limoges, le marché (La grande nouvelle) (E-Flat major)  1:34
24 N° 8. Catacombæ (Sepulcrum romanum)  1:05
25 Con mortuis in lingua mortua (B minor)  1:39
26 N° 9. Избушка на курьих ножках (Баба-Яга) (C minor)  1:09
27 N° 10. The Great Gate of Kiev (E-Flat major)  3:49


Recorded at the BBC Home Service (Broadcast, October 5 & 7) ; August 18, 1958 [# 1-4] ; (Broadcast, July 2, 1961) ; June26,  1961 [# 8-27]


Cd. 2

Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Concerto n° 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 'Emperor'
1 I. Allegro  19:58
2 II. Adagio un poco mosso  7:20
3 III. Rondo. Allegro  10:08

Sergei Rachmaninov

4 Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43


BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult - dir [# 4]
Recorded at Lewisohn Stadium, New York City ; July 19, 1961 [# 1-3] ; Royal Albert Hall, London (Broadcast live on the BBC Light Programme) ; July 14, 1946 [# 4]


Cd. 3

Moiseiwitsch in Interview

1 WKCR New York in the late 1950s  12:22
2 New York 1958  19:16
3 Extract from a BBC interview in the late 1950s or early 60s  2:27
4 Frankly Speaking : a BBC interview with John Freeman, Philip Hope-Wallace and George Scott  33:52
(Broadcast May 13, 1959, BBC Home Service)
5 Extract from Words and Music with Jack Payne  3:57

Frederic Chopin

6 Ballade n° 3 in A-Flat Major, Op. 47


Recorded September 11, 1958


Melanchthon said...

Pedro del Castillo Alonso said...

Awesome!!! Thank you very much Mel!

Anonymous said...

Fbulous post! Nver enough Benno, thank you dear MM!

musician3 said...

AMAZING....................THANK YOU

rubingould said...

Thank you, Mel!

Olde Edo said...

One of my favorites! Thank you for this Moiseiwitsch

Grover Gardner said...

Thank you, never seen this! Wonderful!

Daniele said...

Thank you very much, I am also a great admirer of ukrainian pianists

Phillip said...

What an artist. Thank you so much Mel for this wonderful set.