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Aline van Barentzen

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Aline van Barentzen is that kind of pianist, for some reason largely forgotten today but eminently worth exploring – her pedigree is remarkable, and her playing is original, forthright, and musical, with beautiful tonal colours, expansive phrasing, broad dynamic range, and wonderful timing. This release was carefully considered and none of these radio performances have been published before and aims to bring her artistry back into the present.

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ALINE VAN BARENTZEN plays Ravel, Chopin, Debussy and Beethoven

1-3. RAVEL: Sonatine [09:58]
Recorded · 13 April 1954 · Frankfurt · Altes Funkhaus Eschersheimer Landstraße · Hessischer Rundfunk · Radio Studio Recording

4-7. CHOPIN: Piano Sonata No.3 in B minor, Op.58 [22:46]
Recorded · 31 January 1956 · Frankfurt · Raum 3/B · Hessischer Rundfunk · Radio Studio Recording

8. CHOPIN: Étude in A-flat Major, Op.25, No.1 [02:40]
9. CHOPIN: Étude in A minor, Op.25, No.11 [03:25]
10. DEBUSSY: Prélude No.2 ‘Voiles’, Livre I, L.117/2 [03:22]
11. DEBUSSY: Prélude No.12 ‘Minstrels’, Livre I, L.117/12 [02:00]
12. DEBUSSY: Prélude No.8 ‘Ondine’, Livre II, L.123/8 [02:44]

Recorded · 21 September 1957 · Frankfurt · Raum 3/B · Hessischer Rundfunk · Radio Studio Recording

13-15. BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No.14 in C-sharp minor, Op.27, No.2 [13:50]
Recorded · 03 July 1959 · Munich · Herkulessaal · Bayerischer Rundfunk · Radio Studio Recording

16-18. BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No.8 in C minor, Op.13 [16:06]
Recorded · 05 July 1959 · Munich · Herkulessaal · Bayerischer Rundfunk · Radio Studio Recording

Additional Information

Article number: MC 1021
Release date: 02 May 2014
UPC barcode: 0791154050217
Total time: 76:55

Producer and Audio Restoration: Lynn Ludwig
Booklet Notes: Michael Waiblinger
Design: Alessia Issara
Photographs: Gregor Benko collection
With special thanks to Gregor Benko
From the Original Masters · © 2014 Meloclassic

Aline Isabelle van Barentzen (Bärentzen) was born on July 7, 1897 in Somerville, Massachusetts, of Dutch and Anglo ancestry. Her parents were born in St. Croix, British Virgin Islands. She was the daughter of Thomas Gerard Hoyle. Barentzen’s real maiden name was Hoyle. The “van Bärentzen” name was that it was her mother’s name, and her mother used it as Aline’s surname when they went to Europe. Her mother divorced Thomas, partly in order to create a protégé in Barentzen, and to give her a European musical education. Her first recital was at the age of four, after which her mother moved with her from Boston to Paris for further music studies.

Barentzen 1909

Practising six hours a day, at the age of seven she performed Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with orchestra, and at nine was accepted into the Paris Conservatory. Her teachers there included Marguerite Long and Élie-Miriam Delaborde.

She studied also at the Berlin Royal Academy with Karl Heinrich Barth (a disciple of von Bülow and Tausig), among her fellow students were Artur Rubinstein and Wilhelm Kempff, and with Ernst von Dohnányi. In Vienna she became a pupil of Theodor Leschetizky.

Her extensive early training resulted in complete technical mastery, it being told that when Barentzen went to study with Leschetizky he declared himself satisfied with her technique and spent his time on interpretation. At that time, she also played chamber music with Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, and performed for the German Kaiser Wilhelm II in Berlin before the World War I.

Barentzen gave her official US debut on November 20, 1912 in Boston, Jordan Hall. Her programme comprised Beethoven’s Waldstein sonata, the first two books of Brahms’s Paganini Variations and works by Chopin and Liszt. With Paris as her home she became friends with many of the leading musicians and composers of the early twentieth century, including Enescu, Poulenc, Messaien, Roussel, and Villa Lobos, whose works she often premiered.

AvB2

Villa Lobos dedicated his “próle do bébé, no. 2” to her: “O Cavalinho de Páu’ from próle do bébé, no. 2, signed and inscribed: “À Aline van Bärentzen, âme moderne d’artiste et devineuse de mon sentiment musicale, Villa Lobos, Rio, April 4, 1926”

And she was one of the first to perform Ravel’s Scarbo in Paris in the 1920s, and she was astonished the unusual way she first met the shy, almost reclusive composer. Returning to America, she taught at the Philadelphia Musical Academy, and later at the Buenos Aires Conservatory in Argentina. In 1929 she travelled from Paris to Philadelphia to play a composition requiring thirteen minutes at the request of Leopold Stokowski.

AvB3

She performed frequently throughout Europe with the leading conductors and recorded for His Master’s Voice. Her lifelong association with the piano music of de Falla resulted in her being the first to record his “Noches en los jardines de España” in 1928. She married the French concert violinist Roger Leviste (who had been married twice before) on December 9, 1931 and became a French citizen. They lived at 100 Rue Lauriston in Paris, France. Leviste (1891-1981) is little known by his book “Technique rationnelle du vibrato à l’usage des violonistes” and often accompanied her to the United States although she never flew, but always traveled by ship. In an interview/article in Clavier magazine, February 1981, she told of how she was programmed to play Chopin’s B minor Sonata and both volumes of the Etudes for the first half of a war-time concert, and of how she barely had the energy to make it through, due to the severe food shortages.

In 1954 she became Professor of Piano at the Paris Conservatory. She was decorated three times by the French government: the “Chevalier des Arts et Lettres” (1962), the “Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur” (1966), and the “Officier de l’Ordre National du Merite” (1975). In 1976 the Brazilian government bestowed upon her the Villa-Lobos Gold Medal. She was a frequent jury member of leading piano competitions. She also composed piano pieces under her maiden name of Hoyle.

During her lifetime she gave over 2.000 concerts throughout the world and had an active repertoire of over 500 works. She performed with over forty of the world’s greatest orchestras, under the batons of some of the most famous conductors. Late in life, she became blind and died in 1981.

© Michael Waiblinger 2014

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