Gina Bachauer (1910-76) enjoyed a successful career and there will
be many who remember her concerts with admiration. Her first recordings were
made in Studio 3, Abbey Road, London in 1949 after wartime spent in Egypt,
where she’d travelled from her native Athens.
was selected as her very first piece, a
daunting experience, one would have thought, but a piece through which she
drives with maximal accomplishment, leaving behind a performance of finger
precision and intense drama. It establishes her as a Lisztian of power and
panache, a technician of decided standing, and an interpreter of perception.
The Hungarian Rhapsody No.12 followed in June 1949 - though a look at the
discography handily printed in the centre pages of the booklet shows that
she took no fewer than five attempts at the first part. In the event take
two was selected for issue. It doesn’t tell us much about her Liszt
playing that Funérailles
doesn’t, but it does amplify
the range of theatrics in her playing.
A couple of days later she set down the Bach-Busoni Toccata,
Adagio and Fugue
in C major and here one can appreciate her sheer depth
of her sound - its verticality is tremendous - as well as the phrasal
tenderness she cultivates in the central panel. Her chordal playing is
weighted splendidly and she generates the requisite organ sonorities when
required. The Fugue unfolds with serene control. Truly excellent. The
remainder of the programme sees her teamed with her husband, Alec Sherman,
and the New London Orchestra, the band he had founded in 1941.
Concerto receives a highly sympathetic
reading, never straining for undue effect but never overlooking detail that
gives lift and life to the music. Buoyancy of rhythm is one result and an
ability to spin long phrases in the slow movement another. Together Bachauer
and Sherman take a scrupulous and commanding view of the Liszt-Busoni
. It’s not an incandescent performance but
neither is it timid.
This disc shows why Bachauer was so admired as a performer. It
helps, too, that the booklet is excellent and that the transfers similarly
Masterwork Index: Mozart
piano concerto 26