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Paderewski - The American Recordings: The Complete Victor Recordings
Ignacy Jan Paderewski (piano)
rec. 1914-1931
APR 7505 [5 CDs: 311:12]

Paderewski’s complete Victor 78s are contained in these five well-filled discs. APR’s approach is chronological within recording sessions though not inevitably matrix-chronological. Thus, one charts his first session in Camden, NJ in April 1914, a few months before the outbreak of war, and follows the four wartime sessions before witnessing Victor’s post-war productivity increase in the years 1922-24. The acoustics occupy the first two CDs and the electrically recorded pieces the next three. There’s an appendix with his spoken word discs, recorded to coincide with the Golden Anniversary of his American Debut; one is significantly longer than the other. About five months later he was dead.

The performances are of huge historical significance, given Paderewski’s continuing status, but as with so many Golden Age pianists not all of the mystique and the surpassing prowess survive in the recorded evidence. The rhythmic distensions and constant desynchronisation between left and right hand – what annotator Jan Amberg calls dislocation – are only part of his very personal (but hardly uniquely personal) expressive arsenal. At a time when a singing tone was married to very idiosyncratic approach to rubati, to non-synchronous chordal weight, and to arpeggiation – to cite the three most obvious – there is a great deal of performance practice to appreciate.

As a pupil of the great Leschetitzky, and his inheritance of tonal lustre and beauty, Paderewski enshrined a concept of sound that still ensures that his recordings have cachet even if the mechanics with which he expressed it could sometimes falter. He was not a technician on the level of younger lions to emerge in his wake but his and not theirs was the name pretty well synonymous with pianism after Liszt and Anton Rubinstein. The presentation here of every surviving matrix in this box, some not issued at the time on 78, allied to his earliest recordings on APR6006 and his final sessions (APR5636). therefore now allows the listener a complete overview of the entirety of his recorded legacy.

Given that he didn’t record large-scale works – no sonatas, no concertos – one must make do without the benefit of longer-term architectural music and concentrate instead on more jewel-like pleasures. Thus, though distended rhythmically, his version of Warum? from 1914 is full of emotive pleading, and his own famous Minuet in F sharp minor is full of iridescent treble tracery, as well as quotients of rubato and characterisation. Chopin’s Waltz, op.42 is a quite extreme example of what he can do with this composer’s music given the capricious approach and nineteenth-century personalisation involved. Yet with Liszt he can be grandly declamatory, the Tenth Rhapsody emerging full-bloodied, with a loving glissando, and some examples of technical fallibility – though nothing that much impairs admiration. Indeed, La Leggierezza from May 1923 somewhat refutes the idea of digital slovenliness. It’s excellently conceived and executed. His own Melodie from a 1923 recording is a paradigm of elegance and warmth.

His first 1924 session saw an unusual example of largesse from Victor in the shape of Schubert’s Impromptu in B flat major, which stretches over two sides of a 78. The repertoire based on Chopin, Schumann, Schubert and Liszt continued on the arrival of the microphone but there were also surprising additions, such as Schelling’s Nocturne à Raguze. He is taxed to the limit in La Campanella, two takes of which exist that were recorded months apart.

The new recording circumstances, as with so many other musicians at this time, led to revisitation of the repertoire. He revisited Chopin’s Etude for example and the Prelude in D flat major, Op.28 No.15 but also expanded his discography, including three examples from Debussy’s Preludes. The 1930-31 sessions see a mix-and-match approach, with some favourites and some new pieces. Voiles was new to his discography and he continued to record Debussy but he clearly had trouble with the Strauss-Tausig concoction Man lebt nur einmal of which two examples survive: neither was issued commercially at the time.

There is a huge amount to discover and admire, as well as occasionally to vex, in this generous set. The transfers are excellent-sounding ones and this handsome box, as noted above, is of real musical and historical significance.

Jonathan Woolf

Previous review: Stephen Greenbank


Complete track-listing
CD 1 - The Acoustic Recordings [65.00]
recorded on 29 April 1914, Camden
1. COUPERIN La Bandoline (Rondeau) Pièces de clavecin, 5e Ordre No 8, matrix C 14773-2 (88491) [3.00]
2. COUPERIN Le Carillon de Cythère Pièces de clavecin, 14e Ordre No 6,matrix C 14774-1 (88492) [3.54]
recorded on 30 April 1914, Camden
3. SCHUMANN Warum? Fantasiestücke, Op 12 No 3, matrix C 14778-3 (88494) [2.57]
recorded on 14 May 1917, New York
4. CHOPIN Nocturne in F sharp major Op 15 No 2, matrix C 19781-1 (74529) [3.53]
recorded on 23 May 1917, New York
5. CHOPIN Polonaise in A major Op 40 No 1, matrix C 19943-2 (74530) [4.11]
6. PADEREWSKI Minuet in G major Op 14 No 1, matrix C 19783-3 (74533) [4.21]
7. CHOPIN Nocturne in F major Op 15 No 1, matrix C 19941-2 (74545) [4.12]
8. CHOPIN Waltz in C sharp minor Op 64 No 2, matrix C 19923-2 (74539) [3.28]
recorded on 6 June 1917, New York
9. PADEREWSKI Cracovienne fantastique Op 14 No 6, matrix C 19944-2 (74535) [3.17]
recorded on 18 June 1917, New York
10. CHOPIN Étude in G flat major Op 25 No 9, matrix B 19782-6 (64706) [1.18]
recorded on 1 June 1922, New York
11. CHOPIN Berceuse in D flat major Op 57, matrix C 26398-1 (6428-B) [3.56]
12. PADEREWSKI Nocturne in B flat major Op 16 No 4, matrix C 26600-1 (74765) [4.47]
recorded on 26 June 1922, Camden
13. CHOPIN/LISZT My Joys Chant Polonais No 5, Op 74 No 12, matrix C 26392-4 (6428-A) [4.35]
14. CHOPIN Waltz in A flat major Op 42, matrix C 26397-4 (74796) [3.51]
15. LISZT Hungarian Rhapsody No 10 S244/10, matrix C 26399-2 (74788) [4.52]
16. LISZT Hungarian Rhapsody No 2 S244/2, matrix C 26554-1 & C 26603-2 (74805/6) [8.27]

CD 2 - The Acoustic Recordings continued [75.37]
recorded on 26 June 1922, Camden
1. PADEREWSKI Cracovienne fantastique Op 14 No 6, matrix C 19944-6 (74535) [3.20]
recorded on 27 June 1922, Camden
2. CHOPIN/LISZT The Maiden’s Wish Chant Polonais No 1, Op 74 No 1, matrix C 26602-6 (74777) [4.25]
3. MENDELSSOHN Spinning Song Songs without words, Op 67 No 4, matrix B 26393-5 (66150) [1.54]
recorded on 4 May 1923, Camden
4. PADEREWSKI Melodie Chants du voyageur, Op 8 No 3, matrix B 27914-1 (66160) [2.54]
5. PADEREWSKI Cracovienne fantastique Op 14 No 6, matrix C 19944-8 (6230-A) [3.14]
6. CHOPIN Sonata No 2 in B flat minor Op 35 Marche funèbre: Lento, matrix C 27917-1 (6470-A) [4.35]
7. CHOPIN Étude in G sharp minor Op 25 No 6, matrix B 27918-1 (66161) [2.15]
8. CHOPIN Étude in C sharp minor Op 25 No 7, matrix C 27919-1 (6448-A) [4.24]
9. LISZT La leggierezza Études de Concert, No 2 in F minor, S144/2, matrix C 27921-2 (6438-B) [5.01]
10. CHOPIN Étude in A minor Op 25 No 11, matrix C 27923-1 (6438-A) [3.36]
11. MENDELSSOHN Spinning Song Songs without words, Op 67 No 4, matrix B 26393-6 (66150) [1.54]
recorded on 5 May 1923, Camden
12. CHOPIN Mazurka in A minor Op 17 No 4, matrix C 27920-2 (6448-B) [3.26]
13. PADEREWSKI Minuet in G major Op 14 No 1, matrix C 19783-10 (74533) [3.54]
recorded on 12 May 1924, New York
14. SCHUBERT Impromptu in B flat major Op 142 No 3, matrix C 29984-2 & C 29985-2 (6482-A/B) [9.04]
15. DEBUSSY Reflets dans l’eau - Images Book I No 1, matrix C 29986-1 (6538-B) [4.27]
16. SCHUBERT/LISZT Hark! Hark! The Lark S558/9, matrix C 19979-3 (6470-B) [3.19]
17. CHOPIN Étude in D flat major Op 25 No 8, matrix B 29989-1 (unissued) [1.20]
18. CHOPIN Étude in G flat major Op 25 No 9, matrix B 29989-1 (unissued) [1.20]
19. CHOPIN Mazurka in A flat major Op 59 No 2, matrix B 29990-2 (1027-B) [2.38]
20. CHOPIN Mazurka in F sharp minor Op 59 No 3, matrix B 29991-1 (1027-A) [3.31]
21. WAGNER/LISZT Spinning Chorus The Flying Dutchman, S440, matrix C 29992-1 (6538-A) [5.02]

CD 3
 - The Electric Recordings [65.39]
recorded on 20 May 1926, New York
1. SCHELLING Nocturne à Raguze, matrix CVE 35619-2 & CVE 35620-1 (6700-A/B) [5.47]
2. PADEREWSKI Minuet in G major Op 14 No 1, matrix CVE 19783-11 (6690-A) [3.53]
3. PADEREWSKI Minuet in G major Op 14 No 1, matrix CVE 19783-12 (6690-A) [3.53]
recorded on 11 December 1926, New York
4. STOJOWSKI Chant d’amour Op 26 No 3, matrix CVE 37121-2 (6633-B) [4.16]
5. STOJOWSKI By the Brookside Esquisses, Op 30 No 3, matrix BVE 37122-3 (1426-B) [2.36]
6. DEBUSSY Reflets dans l’eau - Images Book I No 1, matrix CVE 29986-3 (6633-A) [4.24]
recorded on 13 December 1926, New York
7. CHOPIN Prelude in D flat major Op 28 No 15, matrix CVE 27915-6 (6847-A) [4.18]
8. CHOPIN Étude in E major Op 10 No 3, matrix CVE 37126-2 (6628-B) [4.32]
recorded on 14 December 1926, New York
9. SCHUMANN Vogel als Prophet Waldszenen, Op 82 No 7, matrix BVE 37128-3 (1426-A) [3.46]
10. PAGANINI/LISZT La campanella Grandes Études de Paganini, S141/3, matrix CVE 37123-2 (6825-A) [4.49]
recorded on 16 December 1926, New York
11. SCHUBERT Impromptu in A flat major Op 142 No 2, matrix CVE 27913-9 (6628-A) [5.02]
12. SCHUBERT Impromptu in A flat major Op 142 No 2, matrix CVE 27913-10 (6628-A) [4.41]
13. BEETHOVEN Sonata No 14 in C sharp minor ‘Moonlight’ Op 27/2 Adagio CVE 37140-1 (6690-B) [4.59]
recorded on 18 August 1927, New York
14. CHOPIN Nocturne in F sharp major Op 15 No 2, matrix CVE 19781-5 (6825-B) [3.39]
15. PAGANINI/LISZT La campanella Grandes Études de Paganini, S141/3, matrix CVE 37123-3 (6825-A) [5.02]

CD 4 - The Electric Recordings continued [62.06]
recorded on 18 August 1927, New York
1. CHOPIN Étude in E major Op 10 No 3, matrix CVE 37126-6 (6628-B) [4.08]
recorded on 22 May 1928, New York
2. CHOPIN Prelude in D flat major Op 28 No 15, matrix CVE 27915-13 (6847-A) [4.15]
3. CHOPIN Prelude in A flat major Op 28 No 17, matrix CVE 37125-8 (6847-B) [4.08]
4. CHOPIN Waltz in E flat major Op 18, matrix CVE 45509-2 (6877-A) [5.02]
5. CHOPIN Étude in C minor Op 10 No 12, matrix BVE 45510-2 (1387-A) [2.42]
6. RUBINSTEIN Valse-caprice in E flat major, matrix CVE 27922-9 (6877-B) [4.48]
recorded on 24 May 1928, New York
7. SCHUMANN Nachtstück in F major Op 23 No 4, matrix CVE 45514-1 (unissued) [4.34]
CHOPIN Sonata No 2 in B flat minor Op 35
8. III Marche funèbre: Lento, matrix CVE 45515-1 & CVE 45516-2 (unissued) [5.41]
9. IV Presto, matrix CVE 45516-2 (unissued) [1.42]
10. CHOPIN Étude in G flat major Op 10 No 5, matrix BVE 37127-10 (1387-B) [2.06]
recorded on 13 October 1930, New York
11. DEBUSSY Danseuses de Delphes - Preludes Book I No 1, matrix BVE 64325-1 (1531-A) [2.41]
12. DEBUSSY Le Vent dans la plaine - Preludes Book I No 3, matrix BVE 64327-4 (1499-B) [2.30]
13. DEBUSSY Minstrels - Preludes Book I No 12, matrix BVE 64328-2 (1499-A) [2.34]
14. RACHMANINOFF Prelude in C sharp minor Op 3 No 2, matrix BVE 64329-1 (unissued) [2.51]
15. RACHMANINOFF Prelude in G sharp minor Op 32 No 12, matrix BVE 64330-2 (unissued) [2.16]
16. CHOPIN Mazurka in D major Op 33 No 2, matrix BVE 63162-1 (1541-B) [2.31]
recorded on 14 October 1930, New York
17. WAGNER/SCHELLING Tristan und Isolde Prelude to Act I, matrix CVE 64331-2 & CVE 64332-3 (7324-A/B) [7.36]

CD 5 - The Electric Recordings continued [62.50]
recorded on 14 October 1930, New York
1. BRAHMS Hungarian Dance No 6 in D flat major WoO 1/6, matrix BVE 64334-2 (1529-B) [3.29]
2. CHOPIN Mazurka in C sharp minor Op 63 No 3 matrix CVE 64333-1R (dubbed from BVE 64333-3) [7416-B) [2.09]
recorded on 14 and *16 October 1930, New York
3. J. STRAUSS/TAUSIG Man lebt nur einmal, matrix *CVE 64339-2 & CVE 64340-1 (unissued) [7.14]
recorded on 16 October 1930, New York
4. CHOPIN Polonaise in E flat minor Op 26 No 2, matrix CVE 64344-1 & CVE 64345-2 (7391-A/B) [7.12]
recorded on 23 December 1930, New York
5. DEBUSSY Voiles - Preludes Book I No 2, matrix BVE 64326-3 (1531-B) [3.23]
6. DEBUSSY Minstrels - Preludes Book I No 12, matrix BVE 64328-6 (1499-A) [2.37]
7. CHOPIN Nocturne in E flat major Op 9 No 2, matrix CVE 64343-3 (7416-A) [3.52]
8. CHOPIN Mazurka in A flat major Op 59 No 2, matrix BVE 64336-3 (1541-A) [2.38]
9. BRAHMS Hungarian Dance No 7 in A major WoO 1/7, matrix BVE 64335-4 (1529-A) [2.01]
10. J. STRAUSS/TAUSIG Man lebt nur einmal, matrix CVE 64339-3 & CVE 64340-4 (unissued) [7.41]
recorded *23 December 1930 and 13 May 1931, New York
11. WAGNER/LISZT SpinningChorus The FlyingDutchman, S440, matrix BVE 64341-5 & *BVE 64342-3 (1549-A/B) [6.07]
recorded on 13 May 1931, New York
12. SCHUBERT Moment Musical in A flat major Op 94 No 2, matrix CVE 69611-1 & CVE 69612-2 (7508-A/B) [7.10)
The Spoken Word Recordings
recorded 31 January 1941, New York
Address on the observance of the Golden Anniversary of his American Debut
13. My dear friends..., matrix CS 060450-1 & CS 060451-1 (unissued) [3.47]
14. My dear American friends..., matrix CS 060450-1 & CS 060451-1 (unissued) [2.06] 

 

 




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