Jan Smeterlin ∙ Piano Recitals 1951-1958


Jan Smeterlin contributions to the realm of commercial recordings were limited to a select few releases by labels such as Polyphon, Allegro, and Philips. However, this album presents a momentous revelation as it unveils previously undiscovered recordings by this illustrious pianist. The repertoire featured on this album holds immense significance as these works were never commercially recorded by Smeterlin, thus forming a noteworthy omission from his discography. Throughout his career, Smeterlin gradually shifted his focus from concerto performances to dedicating himself to the art of recitals. His programs often centered around the compositions of Frédéric Chopin, showcasing his profound understanding and interpretation of the renowned composer’s works. In addition, he ventured into the realm of contemporary piano literature, boldly introducing the compositions of Isaac Albéniz to Berlin, while also championing the works of Mompou, Szymanowski, Koechlin, and Dukas. During the tumultuous period of the Second World War, Smeterlin sought refuge in the United States. However, in April 1946, he returned to England with the aim of rebuilding his European career. His perseverance and exceptional talent propelled him to the forefront of European music circles, solidifying his status as an eminent figure. Smeterlin embarked on extensive annual tours across the continent, captivating audiences in various countries, including the Scandinavian region. Notably, he enjoyed particular popularity in the Netherlands, making frequent appearances on Dutch radio programs. Two of these radio broadcasts have been preserved and are presented here for the first time. Additionally, a precious radio recording of the Liszt Sonata was discovered in Switzerland, further enriching this collection.

Meloclassic extends its gratitude to Maurice Fitzmaurice, who was a student of Jan Smeterlin, for his invaluable contribution to this release. Mr. Fitzmaurice generously shared his personal reminiscences of his former teacher, providing unique insights and perspectives. For a detailed account of his experiences, please refer to the attached PDF titled ‘A Pupil’s Memoire‘.

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JAN SMETERLIN Piano Recitals 1951-1958

LISZT: Piano Sonata in B Minor, HS 178
Recorded · 05 March 1958 · Lausanne · Maison Pulliérane · Radio Studio Recording

SCHUMANN: Carnaval, Op 9
Recorded · 24 October 1951 · Hilversum · Studio 1 · NCRV · Radio Studio Recording

DEBUSSY: Poissons d’or, Images, Book II, L 111
DEBUSSY: L’isle joyeuse, L 106
GRANADOS: Goyesca No 2 ‘Coloquio en la Reja’

Recorded · 20 April 1951 · Hilversum · Studio 1 · NCRV · Radio Studio Recording

Article number: MC 1067
UPC barcode: 791154050897
Release date: 1 April 2022
Booklet: 12 Pages
Total timing: 76:06
From the Original Masters ∙ © 2021 Meloclassic

August 2022 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Rob Challinor ∙ Jan Smeterlin ∙ Piano Recitals 1951-1958
It is wonderful to hear him in music he did not record commercially thanks to Lynn Ludwig’s Meloclassic label unearthing these broadcasts from Dutch radio. His Liszt B minor Sonata, recorded in 1958, is grand and authoritative, not the performance of a showman but by no means lacking in technical mastery. Smeterlin has firm grasp on the structure of the work and never overdoes the climaxes, approaching them with skilfully graduated dynamics. Two more broadcasts date from seven years earlier and in October 1951 Smeterlin played another major work, Schumann’s Carnaval. Once again this contains fine playing; his tone is beautifully even in legato passages and there is a wonderful sense of rubato. Fans of Smeterlin, and I can safely add myself to that group, will be delighted to have these marvellous documents that give a more rounded picture of him as a pianist especially as the sound is so clear. The CD is in a gatefold sleeve with excellent, detailed notes, and the website listing for the CD also has links to a pupil’s memoire, reminiscences by Maurice Fitzmaurice who studied with Smeterlin between 1955 and 1962. A valuable release.
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