Leonard Shure in Concert at Jordan Hall
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Piano Sonata No.2 in B flat minor, Op.35 (1839) [24:39]
Ballade No.1 in G minor, Op.23 [9:32]
Prelude No.24 in D minor, Op.28 No.24 [3:09]
Prelude No.23 in F major, Op.28 No.23 [1:17]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Phantasien, Op.116 (1892) [24:43]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Fantasie in C major, Op.17 (1836-38) [34:22]
Leonard Shure (piano)
rec. live December 1977 (Chopin Sonata No.2, Prelude 24, Brahms,
Schumann), October 1979 (Chopin Ballade), April 1980 (Chopin Prelude
No.23) in Concert at Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory of Music,
BRIDGE 9374A/B [49:30 + 48:41]
The distinguished American pianist Leonard Shure (1910-95) was
much admired as a performer and teacher, notably as Schnabel’s
assistant. It’s valuable therefore that these recital
performances have emerged on Bridge, covering the years 1977-80,
which enrich his legacy on disc still further.
His Chopin B flat minor sonata is a most interesting study.
Initially one fears that Shure is being too didactic phrasally
and that the music doesn’t quite flow optimally. I still
feel that after a few playing of the first movement, and feel
too that Shure’s tone could harden; it’s rather
flinty in places here. However as the sonata develops his elevated
spirit manifests itself, and so, too, a sense that over-romanticising
is definitely not to be indulged. Pathos and delicacy are certainly
here, in the slow movement, where his coloristic palette is
at its most perceptive, though I do find that the finale lacks
a sense of dreadful fantasy. The two inner movements represent
the best of Shure’s sonata. He didn’t have an especially
big Chopin repertoire, it would appear, but the G minor Ballade
is a perfectly attractive performance, conventional in the best
sense, and the two Preludes are most persuasively done.
He played Brahms Op.116 in concert in October 1979 as part of
the same concert in which he also performed Chopin’s sonata.
Each of the seven pieces is well characterised and he shows
discrimination throughout as to chordal weight. Schumann’s
Fantasie also comes from the same concert and is one
of the highlights of this two disc set. He made an LP recording
of the work for Epic in the mid 1950s, which I’ve yet
to hear, but he manages to bind things extremely well, not least
the extended lyrical paragraphs of the first movement. Rhythm
and dynamics are excellent in the central movement where a few
finger slips are of little account.
The recording quality throughout is fine, and applause from
the appreciative audience greets a number of the pieces. There
are some fine, biographically helpful notes in this useful release.