Wilhelm Backhaus ∙ Ludwigsburg and Besançon Recitals ∙ 2CD


Still and all, Wilhelm Backhaus was one of the finest pianists of the last century. This double CD is addressed two types of people – those who look for great live performances of Beethoven sonatas and those who collect CDs of Wilhelm Backhaus. These two previously unpublished recitals from Ludwigsburg (1953) and Besançon (1959) are a welcome addition to his studio recordings of the Beethoven sonatas. Mostly in concert, at times, did Backhaus come to life. Backhaus did not begin his career as a Beethoven specialist. He came to this composer late in life — he called it his third career. He began with Liszt, Schumann and Chopin. It was only after a lifetime with them that Backhaus felt prepared to come to grips with Beethoven.

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WILHELM BACKHAUS plays Beethoven, Schubert & Brahms ∙ Double CD
The previously unpublished Beethoven recitals from Ludwigsburg (1953) and Besançon (1959)

CD 1

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 6 in F Major, Op 10, No 2
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 7 in D Major, Op 10, No 3
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 14 in C Sharp minor, Op 27, No 2

Recorded ∙ 15 September 1959 ∙ Besançon ∙ Théâtre Municipal ∙ Radiodiffusion-Télévision Francaise ∙ Live Recording

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 3 in C Major, Op 2, No 3
Recorded ∙ 12 December 1953 ∙ Ludwigsburg ∙ Schloss Ordenssaal ∙ Süddeutscher Rundfunk ∙ Live Recording

CD 2

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 21 in C Major, Op 53
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 29 in B-flat Major, Op 106
Schubert: Impromptu No 3 in B-flat Major, Op 142, D 935

Recorded ∙ 12 December 1953 ∙ Ludwigsburg ∙ Schloss Ordenssaal ∙ Süddeutscher Rundfunk ∙ Live Recording

Brahms: Waltz No 1 in B major – Tempo giusto, from 16 Waltzes, Op 39
Brahms: Waltz No 2 in E major. Attacca, from 16 Waltzes, Op 39
Brahms: Waltz No 6 in C-sharp major. Vivace, from 16 Waltzes, Op 39

Recorded ∙ 02 December 1959 ∙ Stuttgart ∙ Liederhalle ∙ Süddeutscher Rundfunk ∙ Live Recording

Article number: MC 1030 ∙ Double CD
UPC barcode: 791154054062
Recording dates: 1953-1959
Release date: March 2015
Total timing: CD 1: 73:27 ∙ CD 2: 72:36
Booklet: 8 Pages
From the Original Masters ∙ © 2015 Meloclassic

May 2015 ∙ Artamag ∙ Jean-Charles Hoffelé ∙ Wilhelm Backhaus ∙ The Ludwigsburg 1953 & Besançon 1959 Recitals
Il y a tout un monde entre Wilhelm Backhaus jouant au studio d’enregistrement – son souvent étriqué, interprétation millimétrée – et Wilhelm Backhaus saisi en concert. Le double album essentiellement consacré à Beethoven que publie Meloclassic rassemble une part du concert donné au Théâtre Municipal de Besançon le 15 septembre 1959 (Sonates Nos. 6, 7 et 14) et l’écho d’une autre soirée Beethoven, elle absolument prodigieuse, captée au Château de Ludwigsburg le 13 décembre 1953. L’enregistrement de la Radiodiffusion française est un rien sec, les micros, trop dans le piano, ne restituent guère la sonorité si belle, si lumineuse, de Backhaus, mais le caractère volcanique des interprétations, les prises de risque, l’aspect improvisé du discours sidèrent. Impossible après cela de le ranger parmi les interprètes dogmatiques de Beethoven. Six ans auparavant, sur le magnifique Bösendorfer de la Ordensaal du Château de Ludwigsburg, les aigus ailés, le médium plein mais ductile, les basses grondantes, Backhaus s’incarne totalement dans ce mélange de fantaisie et d’exactitude, de vélocité des rythmes, d’invention des accents.
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September 2016 ∙ Classical Source ∙ Colin Anderson ∙ Wilhelm Backhaus ∙ The Ludwigsburg 1953 & Besançon 1959 Recitals
Wilhelm Backhaus (1884-1969) is heard in one of his signature composers, Beethoven, a quantity of Sonatas, six from the 32 recorded in 1953 and 1959. All impress. This is serious and noble playing, and also brilliant when required, such as in an example from Opus 2 (the C-major) and two from Opus 10 (the Second and the Third), and also included are the ‘Moonlight’, ‘Waldstein’ and ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonatas, although the informative presentation doesn’t acknowledge nicknames. Backhaus’s playing is full of character, excitement and solemnity, although the ‘Hammerklavier’ may just be found wanting in terms of drama and drive in the first movement, heroic though it is in its own way. Don’t expect too many exposition repeats, although the ‘Hammerklavier’ is a surprising exception. Short pieces by Brahms (three Waltzes from Opus 39) and Schubert (the B-flat Impromptu from D935) complete a recommendable release.
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