Magazine article Gramophone

EILEEN JOYCE: Jeremy Nicholas Immerses Himself in the Complete Studio Recordings of Eileen Joyce and Is Blown Away by the Familiar and Unfamiliar Alike

Magazine article Gramophone

EILEEN JOYCE: Jeremy Nicholas Immerses Himself in the Complete Studio Recordings of Eileen Joyce and Is Blown Away by the Familiar and Unfamiliar Alike

Article excerpt

Eileen Joyce [G] 'The Complete Studio Recordings' Including 'The Parlophone Recordings'3, 'The Columbia Recordings'3, 'The Decca Recordings', 'The HMV Recordings' and 'The Saga Recordings' Eileen Joyce pf Decca Eloquence mono (S) (10) (H) ELQ482 6291 (12h 42' * ADD) Recorded 1933-59. aFrom APR APR7502 (12/11)

Pianophiles will be slavering at the prospect of having access to all this great artist's recordings. Some might not slaver quite as much, however, when they realise that six of the 10 CDs in the box are exactly the same (titles, running orders and transfers) as the five discs issued by APR in 2011 as 'Eileen Joyce: The Complete Parlophone & Columbia Solo Recordings 1933-45'. The same, that is, except for the concerto and chamber items which were not included, to whit Mozart's A major Rondo, Turina's Rapsodia sinfonica, Arensky's Piano Trio, Haydn's Piano Trio in G and piano concertos by Ireland and Shostakovich. Sorry, but there's nothing for it but to shell out again, for all six are, if not benchmarks, absolutely unmissable together with many additional treasures, immaculate annotations and excellent 5 5-page English-only booklet with essays by Bryce Morrison, David Tunley, Victoria Rogers and series producer Cyrus Meher-Homji: 121 works altogether, with only a handful of duplications.

Before addressing these six collaborations, I return briefly to the 87 solo titles common to APR and Decca. When I reviewed the APR CDs in the December 2011 issue, I wrote that '... listening to Joyce is strangely addictive. One cannot wait, as it were, to read the next chapter. She shares with Kreisler and Tauber the same unteachable ability to elevate the second-rate to the first-rate, and to illuminate familiar masterpieces with a convincing and unmistakable voice.'

At the risk of repeating myself further, among the many highlights is the remarkable La leggierezza that first brought Joyce to the attention of the movers and shakers. For the 'B side' she offered Paul de Schlozer's (or is it really Moszkowski's?) infamous Etude in A flat, Op 1 No 2, accessible only to the Hamelins and Houghs of this world. What fabulous dexterity and tonal allure, what fearless execution and total musical conviction! In many of these short, showy works, Eileen Joyce is nonpareil. Her celebrated 1934 dispatch of Palmgren's En route will put an end to any argument about that. Only in the eight Brahms titles does she seem anything less than completely convincing.

As to the (previously omitted) chamber and orchestral recordings, in the earliest of these, Mozart's Rondo in A major recorded in 1936, we get a glimpse of the pellucid tone and unaffected phrasing that won her playing of this composer the unlikely admiration of Glenn Gould (three of the sonatas are included in the collection). The Ireland Concerto remains a classic. This was its premiere recording, as was the no less successful account of Shostakovich's First Piano Concerto recorded by the same forces less than three months earlier. But for me it is the Arensky Trio that shows Joyce at her brilliant best. In the company of Henri Temianka and Antoni Sala, she finds a perfect balance of stunning virtuosity, nimble wit and, in the lovely third movement, a deeply affecting lyrical repose that gives the lie to those who say that Joyce's playing was all surface glitter. …

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