Trawling for treasure
BILL NEWMAN seeks out Golden Age performers now reinstated on CD
BBC BBCL 4054-2
A few days after Annie Fischer played Brahms' F minor Sonata at
the Royal Festival Hall, I was at a Christmas Party at Abbey Road Studios.
I asked Ronald Kinloch Anderson why Annie Fischer did not record the work
for EMI? 'Oh, she did' he replied, 'but afterwards we found
that one of the microphones was faulty, and she had already returned home'.
I was disconsolate, having caught the atmosphere of the audience's
vision of a frail-looking lady who did not appear equal to the physical
task demanded by such a fearsome work. She had already communicated her
natural depth of poetic understanding in Mozart, Schubert, and Schumann
in a Sunday afternoon event. This Brahms performance was to live in my memory
for many years.
Colossal in its daring, mysterious in its wayward excursions into the
unknown, it reminded me of the young Brahms arriving on the Schumann's
doorstep about to startle Robert and Clara with this new Sonata. Having
heard it there would be realisation that a musical saviour was about to
make his mark.
Compared to great pianists like Backhaus, Edwin Fischer and Solomon,
the element of discovery in this Usher Hall, Edinburgh performance in 1961
is the realisation that here again is the mastery of a sensitive artist
giving life and purpose to noble music [listen --
track 1, 7:34-8:27].
Bartók's 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs are played with
the inherent feelings of a Hungarian artist. It is surprising to note that
Annie Fischer's only Bartók recording is of the Third Piano
Concerto. Two familiar pieces by Liszt -- Un sospiro and Grande
Etudes de Paganini No 6 - are highly expressive accounts, and the encore
was Dohnányi's Rhapsody in C, a one-time favourite.
Copyright © 6 June 2001
Bill Newman, Edgware, UK
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