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Jonathan Woolf
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   Len Mullenger


Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Etudes, Op. 10 (1829-32) [31:15]
Etudes, Op. 25 (1832-36) [34:51]
Nouvelles Etudes [6:52]
Fantaisie-Impromptu, Op.66 [4:29]
Robert Goldsand (piano)
rec. 1950s

Robert Goldsand’s name carries a charge for pianophiles. Born in Vienna in 1911 he studied with Sauer and Rosenthal, making his debut in 1921. His US debut came six years later. He left his native city to escape the Nazis, settling in America in 1939 and a decade later the Chopin Centennial Committee invited him to give a complete Chopin cycle. In 1951 he joined the Manhattan School of Music, teaching until 1990, the year before his death.
That’s something less even than a shilling life, but it’s enough to suggest technical precocity, early travel, elite teachers, a specialism or at least excellence in a particular composer, and a lasting gift for pedagogy. These gifts were crystallised in Goldsand’s Chopin recordings of the 1950s. The performance of the Etudes contain some of the most engaging, and imaginatively interesting Chopin playing of the time. The Op.10 Etudes, once past a slightly choppy opening, sport charm and lyricism in equal measure. The playing (Op.10 No.3) is pliant, suggestive, even occasionally limpid, possessed of outstanding clarity of articulation and voicings (No.4). He is also witty, though seldom mercurial, always wholly musical. He evinces a profound inwardness in No.6, full of devout but unpredictable rubati, a melancholic characterisation far more intense than one would hear today. No.8 is deft, characterful, and 11 is a lovely performance, relaxed, elegant, whereas the concluding twelfth etude is passionate but with no extraneous gestures.
The Op. 25 set shows once more how technically adroit he was as a performer. It sounds very relaxed playing, beautifully weighted. And it is constantly alive, for instance Op.25 No.3 which is frolicsome and charged with animation. The droll outer sections of No.5 set the proto-Grieg writing in fine perspective, whereas elsewhere his phrasing is hypnotic or else –as in No.11- full of dramatic fervour. The final etude of this set has grandeur, nobility, and offers a fitting summation to the performance as a whole. As an added inducement these are the three Nouvelles Etudes, warmly played, and the Fantaisie-Impromptu, a sparkling illustration of Goldsand’s art.
The LPs have been impeccably transferred by Forgotten Records. As is often the case there are no notes but a couple of links to websites are provided. Above all, the performances are a reminder of what a true artist Goldsand was.
Jonathan Woolf