April 2021 ∙ British Gramophone ∙ Rob Cowan
Christian Ferras ∙ Hamburg Recitals ∙ 2CD
Melo Classic has recently curated two admirable Christian Ferras double-packs, one chronicling performances with pianist Pierre Barbizet, opening with an account of Debussy’s Sonata (1951) that is far more playfully seductive than the version this duo recorded for Warner Classics some years later. Also included, two Mozart sonatas (K454 and 305), sonatas by Fauré (No 1) and Franck, Milhaud’s Le boeuf sur le toit and a whole host of shorter pieces. As to the Beethoven Concerto, most listeners will know Ferras’s rendering primarily through his sleek 1967 DG recording with the BPO under Karajan. Turn to Ferras in 1954 with the Stuttgart RSO under Hans Müller-Kray and you enter a different world, the tone riper, the overall approach livelier and more robust. Similar observations re Karajan and earlier Ferras recordings on Melo Classic apply to concertos by Brahms (NDR SO/Schmidt-Isserstedt) and Tchaikovsky (Stuttgart RSO/Müller-Kray), where tempos are again swifter than they later became, Ferras’s approach more candidly emotional.
Pina Carmirelli Concerto recordings 1963 ∙ 1967
Pina Carmirelli, best known as a chamber-music player, who although less the virtuoso than Ferras captures Prokofiev’s fantastical, sardonic world without sacrificing any of its magic. In this she is aided and abetted by excellent stereo sound (1967) and by the SWR SO under Ernest Bour, who liberate more detail from the score than virtually any of their rivals, past or present, commercially recorded or otherwise. The coupling for Carmirelli’s Prokofiev is a Beromünster Brahms Concerto from 1963 (mono) under Erich Schmid, who cues a secure opening tutti leading to a less than remarkable first entry by Carmirelli, though things improve dramatically. By the time she reaches Joachim’s cadenza and an outstandingly memorable slow movement, things have improved dramatically.
Poldi Mildner Piano Recitals in Germany 1955-1959:
Melo Classic’s CD of Poldi Mildner’s 1955-59 German piano recitals landed on my mat. Here is a pianist to reckon with and make no mistake; the reckless, wild temperament, the dynamism, tonal power, dazzling finger velocity and overall virtuosity beyond measure, all dispatched at such amazing speeds, even though, inevitably given such breathless abandon, there’s the occasional stumble. All I can say is that, having treated us to two such magnificent tasters, maybe Melo Classic could search out other Mildner tapes. The sound is perfectly acceptable.