Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chopin D♭Nocturne Axis Mundi

Op. 27, number 2

rec. 1922
Józef Kazimierz Hofmann (20 January 1876 – 16 February 1957) was a Polish-American virtuoso pianist and composer. Many connoisseurs consider him one of the greatest pianists of all time.

Sergei Rachmaninoff considered Hofmann his superior as a pianist and dedicated his Piano Concerto No. 3 to him.

Hofmann's invention of pneumatic shock absorbers for cars and planes earned him a fortune in the early 20th century. His other inventions included medical devices, a furnace that burned crude oil, a device to record dynamics in reproducing piano rolls that he perfected just as the roll companies went bust, another piano invention, and a house that revolved with the sun.

NB:[All text in this particular post has been cut and pasted from the wikipedia article about the pianist being discussed, unless otherwise noted!]

Hofmann, rec. 1935:

Artur Rubenstein (1887 – 1982) was a Polish-born American pianist. He received international acclaim for his performances of the music of a variety of composers, and is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century. Although best known as a recitalist and concerto soloist, Rubinstein was also considered an outstanding chamber musician. Rubinstein recorded much of the core piano repertoire, particularly that of the Romantic composers. With the exception of the Etudes, he recorded most of the works of Chopin. He was one of the earliest champions of the Spanish and South American composers and of French composers who, in the early 20th century, were still considered "modern" such as Debussy and Ravel. Rubinstein, in conversation with Alexander Scriabin, named Brahms as his favorite composer, a response that enraged Scriabin.

rec. 1964, Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory

Vladimir von Pachmann (1848 – 1933) was a pianist of Russian-German ethnicity, especially noted for performing the works of Chopin, and also for his eccentric on-stage style. Pachmann was born in Odessa, Ukraine.
Pachmann was one of the earliest to make recordings of his work, beginning in 1906 with recordings for the Welte-Mignon reproducing piano and in 1907 for the gramophone. He was also famous for gestures, muttering, and addressing the audience during his performance; the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica judiciously characterized it as the "playfulness of his platform manner", while critic James Huneker called him the "Chopinzee", and George Bernard Shaw reported that he "gave his well-known pantomimic performance, with accompaniments by Chopin."

rec. 1916 and 1925

Louis Diémer (1843 - 1919) was a well-known piano performer and pedagogue in the 19th century, and taught many prominent pianists. Franck composed his Variations Symphoniques for him and he worked closely with many of the major French composers of the time, performing premieres of works by Saint-Saëns, Franck, Fauré and Lalo amongst others.

His own playing is technically highly refined, in the ultra-clear French manner. The playing verges on the over-neat, almost even sometimes austere.

His few recordings are mostly of his own salon works. This recording of Chopin's Nocturne in D flat was made in c.1903-04. [Cut and pasted from the YouTube comment accompanying the video]

Moriz Rosenthal (December 17, 1862 - September 3, 1946) was an American-Jewish pianist of Austro-Hungarian origin. He was a pupil of Liszt and a friend and colleague of some of the greatest musicians of his age, including Brahms, Johann Strauss, Anton Rubinstein, von Bulow, Saint Saens, Massenet and Albeniz. Rosenthal recorded less than three hours' worth of music. What he did record, however, is considered some of the most legendary piano-playing on disc. Rosenthal's wit was legenday. When he heard Horowitz blaze through the octave passages of Tchaikowsky's First Piano Concerto at his Vienna debut, he remarked: "He is an Octavian, but not Caesar."

Rec. 1936

Claudio Arrau León (1903 – 1991) was a Chilean pianist known for his interpretations of a vast repertoire spanning from the baroque to 20th-century composers, especially Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin and Liszt. He is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century. Claudio Arrau was of Basque descent. Many claimed that his rich, weighty tone lent his interpretations a distinctive voice, some saying it sounded thick and muddy and others praising its rounded tone, saying it sounded as though Arrau were almost playing the organ or "plowing" his "paws" into the "flexible" keyboard. According to American critic Harold Schonberg, Arrau always put "a decidedly romantic piano tone in his interpretations".

rec. ?

Dinu Lipatti (19 March 1917 – 2 December 1950) was a Romanian classical pianist and composer whose career was cut short by his death from Hodgkin's disease at age 33.

rec. ?

Vladimir Ashkenazy (born 1937) is a Russian conductor and virtuoso pianist. Vladimir Ashkenazy is renowned for his performances of Romantic and Russian composers. Ashkenazy is also known for his slightly unusual habits in solo piano performance: spurning coat and tie in favor of a white turtleneck and black suit; running (not walking) onstage to the piano; and running offstage after finishing and taking his bow.

rec. ?

Raoul Koczalski (1884 – 1948) was a Polish pianist and composer, who fulfilled his promise (first shown as a child prodigy) to become one of the great pianists of his time. "Raoul Koczalski is one of those last performers who use the romantic freedom in their perfomance" [The last sentence is from the YouTube comment]

rec. ?

Moura Lympany (Mary Gertrude Johnstone)(1916 - 2005) was an English concert pianist.

rec. 1961

Martha Argerich (born 1941) is an Argentine concert pianist. Her aversion to the press and publicity has resulted in her remaining out of the limelight for most of her career. Nevertheless she is widely recognized as one of the greatest modern-day pianists. In a 2001 article about Martha Argerich for The New Yorker, critic Alex Ross wrote: "Argerich brings to bear qualities that are seldom contained in one person: she is a pianist of brain-teasing technical agility; she is a charismatic woman with an enigmatic reputation; she is an unaffected interpreter whose native language is music. This last may be the quality that sets her apart. A lot of pianists play huge double octaves; a lot of pianists photograph well. But few have the unerring naturalness of phrasing that allows them to embody the music rather than interpret it."

rec. 1972

Maurizio Pollini (born 1942), Italy. Pollini is especially noted for his performances of Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, Schoenberg, Webern and for championing modern composers such as Pierre Boulez, Luigi Nono, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Giacomo Manzoni, Roberto Carnevale, Salvatore Sciarrino, Giovanni Sollima, Bruno Maderna. Important modern works were composed for Pollini, notably Nono’s …sofferte onde serene…, Giacomo Manzoni’s Masse: omaggio a Edgard Varèse and Salvatore Sciarrino's Fifth Sonata. While known for possessing an exceptional technique, Pollini is sometimes accused of emotional conservatism. He has conducted both opera and orchestral music, sometimes leading the orchestra from the keyboard in concertos.

rec. ?

Daniel Barenboim (born 1942) is an Argentinian-born pianist and conductor. Barenboim first came to prominence as a pianist but is now perhaps better known as a conductor. Daniel Barenboim is considered one of the most prominent musicians of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, as both pianist and conductor. He is noted for his mastery of conveying musical structure, and for a deep sensitivity to harmonic nuances.

rec. ?

Vitalij Margulis (born 1928)in the Ukrainian City of Charkov. He received his first piano lessons from his father, whose teacher, Alexander Horowitz, studied with the composer Alexander Scriabin. In 1994, he accepted the post of Professor of Piano at the University of California in Los Angeles.[Cut and pasted from the YouTube comment]

rec. ?

Evgeny Kissin (born 1971) is a Russian classical pianist and former child prodigy. He is especially known for his interpretations of the works of Chopin, for whom he has felt an affinity since early childhood.
rec. ?

(these YouTube videos do not allow embedding)
Lang Lang
Leon Fleischer, early 1980s, celebrating the return of function to his right hand.

1 comment:

  1. The second one is outstanding. (Haven't listened to them all yet).