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Annie Fischer

Beethoven Piano Sonatas No 7 in D Op 10/3; No. 16 in G Op31/1

Schumann Carnaval


BBC Legends BBCL 4199-2


When I first heard the youthful strength and gentle high spirits of the Beethoven on this disc, I thought the recording date (1987) was a misprint for 1937. But no, Annie Fischer really was 73 when she performed these sonatas. They have a sweep of phrasing, a certainty and direction, and simply a sense of character that is quite majestic. While Fischer is famous for her directness, the music is somehow always interesting; her awareness of pace, flow, just the way the music is breathing is extraordinary. And though she is famous for an entirely masculine sense of power (as we can hear at the beginning and end of the Schumann coupling, made twenty years earlier), there is no shortage of wit or grace either; witness the insouciant ending to Op 10/3.


The Schumann, though one of her warhorses, is perhaps less special – the vision and breadth that make her sonata movements so striking are less unusual when interpreting a piece built out of miniatures. Throughout the whole disc, however, we hear what is so often lacking today, someone who knows exactly what they want to do with the music.


These are live studio broadcasts, and they do have their ample share of wrong notes, partly caused, as Bryce Morrison explains in the booklet essay with his usual elegance, by Fischer's fear of the microphone. But these blemishes are, as Morrison says, ‘mere spots on the sun.' However, Fischer's dislike of recording mean less of her work is available, making this CD all the more to be treasured.


Ying Chang