Academic journal article ARSC Journal

Apr

Academic journal article ARSC Journal

Apr

Article excerpt

APR, the British label specializing in historic piano recordings, has released Ignace Jan Paderewski--His Earliest Recordings, which includes the Polish pianist's complete European recordings made in 1911 and 1912 (APR 6006, 2 CDs; www.aprrecordings.co.uk). It is no secret among piano collectors that Paderewski's best playing is on his acoustic records; by the time he made electrically-recorded discs his technique was in serious disrepair, and much of the playing in the famous Golden Anniversary Album (Victor M748) issued in 1941 is an embarrassment (most of those recordings were made in the late 1930s when the pianist was past his mid-70s). In his excellent annotations, producer Donald Manildi notes that the pianist's discography consists almost entirely of miniatures, with little representation of the larger works in his repertoire (Chopin's Ballades and Sonata in B Minor, Brahms' Handel and Paganini Variations, several Beethoven sonatas, etc.). Musically, the performances do little to change my opinion of Paderewski as one of the most overrated pianists on record. To be sure, there are a number of performances that show him to be a sensitive musician, particularly the handful of Chopin Nocturnes and the Berceuse. But, there are many other performances where Paderewski seems to do no more than hammer out the material, such as Chopin's Etude in C-sharp minor Op. 25, No. 7, Waltz in Aflat, Op. 34, No. 1, and "Aufschwung" from Schumann's Fantasiestucke, the latter striking these ears as particularly crude. …

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