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Miecyslaw Horszowski

J.S Bach: The Well Tempered Clavier Book 1, Preludes & Fugues Nos.10 & 15
Mozart: Fantasia in D minor, K397
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.2 in A major, Op.2 No.2
Franck: Prelude, choral et fugue
Schumann: Kinderszenen Op.15

BBCL 4171-2 (Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Maltings, Suffolk 12 June 1986)



Pierre Monteux

Weber: Jubel Overture
London Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Monteux
Royal Festival Hall, London, 24 September 1963

Ravel: Le Tombeau de Couperin
BBC Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Monteux
BBC Studios, London, 11 October 1961

Pijper: Symphony No.3
BBC Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Monteux
BBC Studios, London, 11 October 1961

Elgar: Enigma Variations
London Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Monteux
Kingsway Hall, London, 4 March 1962

Chabrier: Fete polonaise
London Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Monteux
Kingsway Hall, London, 14 December 1961

BBCL 4172-2

Treasurable mementoes of two phenomenal musicians of extraordinary longevity on the concert platform.

Miecyslaw Horszowski (1892-1993) memorised Bach's inventions when he was three. He was beloved of fellow pianists, and enjoyed a long Indian summer of recitals before devotees at Wigmore Hall and at Aldeburgh. His ear is still acute and his fingers still (nearly) infallible in most of this late recital in the BBC Legends series (yes, he doesn't strike accurately all the left hand melody notes at the top of the huge spread chords in Franck's choral, but don't let that put you off - that happened to Cortot when much younger, and his performances are still revered and studied).

There are many passages of exquisite tonal control to savour, and he finds the wit in Beethoven's early A major sonata, and the nobility of its slow movement. Jeremy Siepmann's notes convey wonder without glossing over the imperfections, but leave you knowing that everyone, especially aspiring pianists, will be poorer without studying these truly live performances, unvarnished by easy studio manipulation.

Pierre Monteux (1875- 1964) first conducted at 12 and continued on the podium for 77 years. He was noted for his unassuming fidelity to composers and their scores. Stravinsky wrote that almost alone amongst conductors he continued to play Rite of Spring all his life, never cheapened it or sought his own glory.

Always a musical explorer in contemporary music, a little remembered symphony by the most famous Dutch composer of the time,Pijper's No 3 (1926), which Monteux retained in his repertoire until the end of his life, has real character and aural finesse, and ought to be revived, despite its disconcertingly abrupt conclusion which seems to demand preparation (there are several examples of this phenomenon in the repertoire, notably Beethoven's Grosse Fuge and Missa Solemnis). The mono Elgar is one of those performances that can hold its own, and hearing it again makes me feel that none of those since, in state-of-the art stereo, SACD etc, is really necessary. Monteux's account is wise, never overblown, his tempi judicious, balance between parts guiding your ears to the essence of the counterpoint.

This is a fine, satisfyingly balanced concert, assembled from broadcast performances in London's halls and studios. Since they had not been retained in the BBC archives, they were all sourced from collectors, to the great credit of the BBC Legends' indefatigable researchers.






© Peter Grahame Woolf