CD Album reviews

Classical Music Magazines

Gramophone
August 2022 ∙ British Gramophone ∙ Rob Cowan

Mikhail Waiman ∙ Concerts In East Germany 1950-1963
Ukrainian violin magic. A 1957 radio studio recording of Tchaikovsky’s Concerto with the Berlin RSO under Rolf Kleinert certainly reports a sensitive temperament and sweet, tremulous tone as well as a markedly individual approach to phrasing. The same ‘twofer’ also contains a lyrical yet lively Mozart Turkish Concerto as well as a markedly Khachaturian-like Violin Concerto (1949) by the Russian composer Aleksi Machavariani (under Franz Konwitschny, 1951), which Waiman plays with brilliance and panache. There’s also some exceptional Bach, the E major Concerto, where Karl Eliasberg can be heard groaning away at the head of Leipzig’s Radio Symphony. A marvellous set.

Classica

July 2022 ∙ French Classica ∙ Michel Le Naour

Christian Ferras ∙ Concert Tours in Europe 1961-1974
Le label Meloclassic poursuit son exploration de documents rares et propose deux publications consacrées à Christian Ferras qui contribuent à la connaissance de son art. En tournées en Europe dans les années 1960 et 1970, le violoniste français témoigne ici de la variété d’un répertoire très vaste. D’une vocalité à couper le souffle (Concerto de Mendelssohn à Cologne, en 1964), fervent (Poème de Chausson et Tzigane de Ravel avec l’Orchestre de l’ORTF dirigé par Jean-Claude Hartemann, en 1969), élégant et expressif (Symphonie espagnole de Lalo au Luxembourg avec Louis de Froment, en 1961), il se révèle vibrant (Concerto n° 4 de Mozart, en 1968). Au rang des curiosités, la pièce Danubiana du ravélien Robert de Fragny (créée à Besançon en 1964) et un bouleversant Concerto de Schoenberg (à Graz, en 1974), dont il n’a jamais laissé de trace au disque. (Choc de Classica)

Christian Ferras ∙ Violin Recitals in Germany 1953-1965
Avec Pierre Barbizet en récital en Allemagne en 1959 ou en studio en 1953, la Sonate « Le Printemps » de Beethoven, la Sonate n° 2 de Schumann ou Tzigane de Ravel sont soulevés par un élan communicatif. Quant à la Sonate n° 3 d’Enesco, elle constitue un inédit à marquer d’une pierre blanche. La sensibilité lumineuse du violoniste se marie au timbre vif-argent et à la force vitale du pianiste.

 
Diapason
July 2022 ∙ French Diapason ∙ Jean-Michel Molkhou

Christian Ferras ∙ Violin Recitals in Germany 1953-1965
Ces deux nouveaux volumes de documents puisés par Meloclassic dans les archives des radios européennes enrichissent significativement la discographie de Christian Ferras, qui mit fin à ses jours voici tout juste quarante ans. Le premier réunit un ensemble d’enregistrements de sonates, d’excellente qualité sonore et tous inédits. Aux côtés de Pierre Barbizet, exemplaire partenaire dune vie, on retrouve le jeune Christian dans de vigoureuses interprétations de trois sonates de Beethoven (dont un « Printemps» d’une poignante tendresse), une 2e de Schumann enflamnmée, et une 3e de son vénéré maitre Enesco, dune bouleversante authenticité. A peine âgé de vingt ans, il révèle déjà toute la richesse de son àme comme une spectaculaire virtuosité dans une version très personnelle de Tzigane. Une lecture à la fois robuste et pleine de charme de la Sonatine no 3 de Schubert, totalement nouvelle dans sa discographie, ainsi qu’une vision intensément habitée de la Sonate no 2 de Bartok, dont il na laissé aucune gravure officielle, complètent ce passionnant double album. 

Christian Ferras ∙ Concert Tours in Europe 1961-1974
Le second volume le tait entendre, avec orchestre cette tois, à une époque un peu plus tardive. Des bandes radio le montrent dans un répertoire qui lui était cher, en offrant une intéressante alternative à ses gravures officielles. Dans la Symphonie espagnole de Lalo (sans I’Intermezzo), le Concerto op. 64 de Mendelssohn, le Poème de Chausson ou Tzigane de Ravel, sous la baguette de différents chefs (Froment, Lescovic ou Hartemann), on reconnait partout sa vibrante sonorité, ses suaves portamentos, sa généreuse inspiration, comme son formidable instinct. L’apport le plus significatif à sa discographie tient en des live qui, outre un Concerto no 4 de Mozart dont on lui connais sait déjà plusieurs versions, le mettent en scène dans deux oeuvres nouvelles. La première, Danubiana de Robert Proton de la Chapelle alias Robert de Fragny) dont cêtait la création mondiale à Besançon ce 9 septembre 1964, prouve l’admiration que le compositeur – chef d’entreprise, et même écrivain ou homme politique à ses heures – portait à Ravel, comme aux valses viennoises. La seconde, le Concerto op. 36 de Schönberg, fut captée par la Radio autrichienne à Graz, en octobre 1974, période où Ferras cherchait à élargir son répertoire. Dans cette vision éminemment lyrique dune oeuvre fort complexe, le violoniste, déjà en proie à quelques démons, démontre une maitrise éclatante et une riche qualité dinspiration. Superbe hommage enrichi de nombreuses photographies et d’excellents textes de présentation (en anglais seulement). 

Gramophone
July 2022 ∙ British Gramophone ∙ Rob Cowan ∙ Vintage piano magic

Frieda Kwast-Hodapp ∙ German Radio Recordings 1948 ∙ 2CD
A remarkable 1948 live recording of Reger’s Piano Concerto by the work’s dedicatee, Frieda Kwast-Hodapp. The Reger is preceded on disc 2 of Meloclassic’s revelatory double-pack by a RIAS studio recording of Beethoven’s Hammerklaviersonata (also 1948), which, although occasionally smudged in terms of detail, features a richly emotional, even Schnabelian account of the Adagio sostenuto. Disc 1 consists of 18 of Scriabin’s 24 Preludes, Op 11, miniatures by Reger and Fortner and a selection from both books of Bach’s ’48’. And to think that Kwast-Hodapp only made one commerical disc recording, an Electrola 78 of works by Bach and Scarlatti.

Julius Katchen ∙ Piano Recitals 1946-1965 ∙ 2CD
The gifted American left us numerous recordings, principally for Decca, though some live tapes survive, including the ‘Piano Recitals 1946-1965’ that appear on another recent Meloclassic double-pack. Disc 1 opens, with a deeply considered account of Beethoven’s Op 26 Sonata. Op 109 is equally memorable, especially the rhapsodic first movement. Schubert’s B flat Sonata features a first movement not dissimilar to Horowitz’s at Carnegie Hall prior to his sabbatical, but come the Andante sostenuto and you can barely breathe: such intensity! The same set also includes a fiery live account of Schumann’s Études Symphoniques as well as memorable readings of Bach’s Second Partita and various shorter works.

Edith Farnadi ∙ Piano Recitals 1966-1968
Another charismatic performance is Liszt’s First Mephisto Waltz, which is especially propulsive in the hands of Budapest-born Edith Farnadi, playing that has a Cziffra-like demonism about it. The Gounod-Liszt Faust Waltz that follows is crisp and elegant, and there’s a Chopin sequence, including a somewhat reckless Fantaisie-impromptu and a taut Second Scherzo, its opening an abrupt call to arms. One or two minor mishaps aside, it’s both thrilling and thoughtful, as is the account of Brahms’s Second Sonata that concludes the programme.

Halina Czerny-Stefańska ∙ Concert Tours in Germany 1958-1971 ∙ 2CD
Chopin’s First Concerto with Czerny-Stefańska include a 1971 version with the Berlin RSO under Rolf Kleinert, recently released by Meloclassic. Here as before, poise and elastic phrasing are prominent virtues. The same desirable double-pack also includes dramatic accounts of Liszt’s E flat Concerto from 1964 (Heinz Fricke), Grieg’s A minor from 1962 (Otakar Trhlik) and Mendelssohn’s G minor from 1963 (Hans Schmidt-lsserstedt). The deal is completed, with stylishly performed solo pieces by Chopin, Rameau, Scarlatti and
Roman Maciejewski.

LObs
May 2022 ∙ L’Obs ∙ Philippe Cassard

Christian Ferras ∙ Concert Tours in Europe 1961-1974
Alors qu’il nous a quittés voici quarante ans, Christian Ferras (1933-1982) continue d’illuminer, tel un soleil, la planète violonistique. Le label Melo Classic édite des documents d’un intérêt exceptionnel : un double album de récitals avec le fidèle Pierre Barbizet, un autre de concerts avec orchestre. J’ignorais que Ferras avait joué le «Concerto » de Schoenberg: il lui rend son âpre lyrisme. «Tzigane » de Ravel transcendant, concerto de Mendelssohn sidérant de grâce et de verve, «Symphonie espagnole » de Lalo magistrale, mais presque austère, enfin, le plus poignant « Poème » de Chausson depuis Ginette Neveu: 155 minutes d’émerveillement continu.

Diapason
October 2021 ∙ French Diapason ∙ Laurent Muraro

Piano mania ∙ Review of eight piano albums
Le prophète Wilhelm Kempff semble quant à lui toujours flotter au-dessus des eaux dans deux récitals captés à Besançon et Saint-Malo en son âge d’or (1955 et 1961). Du Forgeron de Handel aux Intermezzos du vieux Brahms, tout est marqué du sceau du beau chant et de l’évidence (2 CD, Diapason d’or).

Gramophone
May 2021 ∙ British Gramophone ∙ Rob Cowan

Stefan Askenase Piano Recitals in Germany 1952-1968
Askenase revelations: There will doubtless be cause for considerable excitement within the ranks of Stefan Askenase’s many admirers when they discover Melo Classic’s collection of German piano recitals. These feature much music that is not otherwise available in the pianist’s discography. All in all, then, this excellent and nicely recorded recital extends our knowledge of a major pianistic figure from the relatively recent past. I’d certainly recommend you investigate further.

Daniil Shafran Concert Tours in Germany 1957-1973
Shafran at his best: This particular programme includes a taut, lyrical and assured account of the Dvorák Concerto with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under Carl von Garaguly. After Dvorák comes Kabalevsky, his appealing First Concerto conducted by the composer. As to works with piano (Anton Ginsburg), Britten’s Sonata is dazzling, while Franck’s Sonata is charged with feeling, and Prokofiev’s Sonata witnesses, at the start of its finale, a veritable flood of glorious tone. So does the Serenata from Stravinsky’s Suite italienne, another wonderful performance. All the duo sonatas are offered in stereo. Fabulous!

Diapason
April 2021 ∙ French Diapason ∙ Jean-Michel Molkhou

Daniil Shafran Concert Tours in Germany 1957-1973
La publication de ces bandes allemandes vient donc opportunément rappeler le talent, la virtuosité et la beauté du son de ce violoncelliste parmi les plus fabuleux du siècle passé. Un récital donné le 24 mai 1973 au Schwetzingen-Schloss, aux côtés de son fidèle partenaire Anton Ginsburg (ancien élève de Heinrich Neuhaus), en constitue l’essentiel. Deux archives radio est-berlinoises plus anciennes permettent de retrouver Shafran dans deux concertos.

Gramophone
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.

Diapason

March 2021 ∙ French Diapason ∙ Jean-Michel Molkhou

Christian Ferras ∙ Hamburg Recitals ∙ 2CD
Ce sont des inédits, puisés dans les archives de la Radio de Hambourg, que réunit ce généreux double album consacré à Christian Ferras, donnant à entendre le grand violoniste français en son âge d’or. En compagnie de Pierre Barbizet, son inséparable partenaire. Agrémentés d’une notice fort documentée et de quelques rares photos d’époque, ces enregistrements reproduits à partir des masters originaux, raviront tous les admirateurs de l’une des personnalités violonistiques les plus fascinantes du XXe siècle et du plus fusionnel des duos français.

Gramophone
March 2021 ∙ British Gramophone ∙ Rob Cowan

Legendary Soviet Pianists in East Germany 1953-1960
Four rather less celebrated figures brought together by Melo Classic also warrant the attention of discerning listeners. Tatyana Goldfarb (who died aged 49 in 1964) makes an especially lyrical statement of the principal second subject of Tchaikovsky’s First Concerto (Berlin RSO / Franz Konwitschny, 1955) whereas Nina Yemelyanova (1912-98) enjoys a soaring accompaniment for Rachmaninov’s Third Concerto, a memorable 1953 Berlin recording under Hermann Abendroth, the performance outgoing and energetic. All these performances repay repeated listening and the transfers are immaculate.

Hans Richter-Haaser Piano Recitals in Germany 1948-1970
I enjoyed this set enormously. It sent me back to the pianist’s equally distinctive commercial recordings. Could there be further broadcasts available, I wonder? If so, I’d love to hear them. As usual with this label, the transfers are exemplary and so are the annotations.

John Ogdon The Ludwigsburg Recital in 1967
This is Ogdon at his formidable best; and if there’s any more available from the same source, let’s be having it. Good sound.

Gramophone
January 2021 ∙ British Gramophone ∙ Rob Cowan

Legendary French Pianists · Monique Haas · Madeleine de Valmalète
These memorably stylish performances find Monique Haas a model of elegance. But perhaps the main attraction is a fine musician who made even fewer recordings than Haas: Madeleine de Valmalete, a prize-winning pianist who impressed the likes of Faure and Ravel.

Diapason

May 2020 ∙ French Diapason ∙ Jean-Michel Molkhou

Legendary French Violinists · Janine Andrade · Jeanne Gautier
Deux violonistes françaises tombées dans l’oubli, Jeanne Gautier (1898-1974) et Janine Andrade (1918-1997) se partagent un volume réunissant des oeuvres dont elles n’ont laissé aucune trace au disque.

Legendary Concertmasters of the Berlin Philharmonic ∙ Michel Schwalbé ∙ Hugo Kolberg
Un double album rend un généreux hommage à deux légendaires violons solos de l’Orchestre philharmonique de Berlin, Hugo Kolberg et Michel Schwalbé.

Diapason

April 2020 ∙ French Diapason ∙ Jean-Michel Molkhou

Ossy Renardy plays Violin Concertos 1939-1945
Trois live new-yorkais permettent de retrouver le violoniste Ossy Renardy (1920-1953), de son vrai nom Oskar Reiss, fauché à trente ans dans un accident de voiture. On admire un spectaculaire goût du risque, un style vibrant et une étincelante technique qui témoignent d’une forte personnalité.

Erick Friedman Live Performances in France 1965-1968
Un des rares disciples de Jascha Heifetz, Erick Friedman (1939-2004), a droit à un double album exhumant deux concerts et un récital captés sur le vif en France, dans d’excellentes conditions. 

Johanna Martzy Swiss Radio Broadcast Recordings 1947-1969
Joanna Martzy (1924-1979), grande figure de la tradition hongroise, est célébrée par des enregistrements suisses. L’album dévoile le finale du Concerto no 4 de Mozart, pris sur le vif Iors du Concours de Genève 1947 où elle s’imposa. Dotée d’un vibrato intense typique de l’école Hubay, mais aussi d’une technique immaculée (Hora staccato de Dinicu/Heifetz), comme d’une irrésistible sensualité (Piéce en forme de habanera de Ravel, 4 Pièces de Suk) elle captive de bout en bout dans un récital donné quelques mois plus tôt. En 1969 à Zurich, on retrouve intact son style vibrant et généreux dans un Concerto no 1 de Bruch où l’artiste démontre une fougue et un engagement de tous les instants.

Tibor De Machula German Radio Broadcast Recordings 1944-1952
C’est d’abord comme violoncelle solo des Berliner Philharmoniker choisi par Furtwängler, que se fit connaitre à partir de 1936 Tibor de Machula (1912-1982). Quatre archives radio allemandes documentent ses apparitions solistes. L’élégance des phrasés, la clarté du style et son aisance naturelle confirment partout la noblessede son art.

Diapason

February 2020 ∙ French Diapason ∙ Bertrand Boissard

Meloclassic poursuit son exploration de bandes radio inédites de pianistes illustres et pour certains oubliés.

Classica

February 2020 ∙ French Classica ∙ Jean-Charles Hoffelé

Meloclassic propose, dans de bonnes conditions techniques, des enregistrements historiques rares de pianistes connus ou à redécouvrir. Une mine pour les curieux.

Gramophone
December 2019 ∙ British Gramophone ∙ Rob Cowan

The latest trawl of radio recordings from Melo Classic is typically eclectic and revelatory. This is a fabulous bundle of discs.

Reviews on the Web

Musicweb
November 2022 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Rob Challinor ∙ Julian von Károlyi ∙ Piano Recitals in Germany 1954-1956

The sound and production are exceptional and I am grateful to Lynn Ludwig and Meloclassic for adding this pianist to their growing roster of resurrected treasures. I shall certainly be on the lookout for more of Károlyi’s recordings. 

rondo das klassik und jazz magazin logo vector
October 2022 ∙ Rondo Magazin ∙ Eleanore Büning ∙ Frieda Kwast-Hodapp ∙ German Radio Recordings 1948

Manchmal taucht sie noch, wie ein Gespenst, im Nebensatz auf: die legendäre Pianistin Frieda Elise Hodapp, verheiratete Kwast. Neulich zum Beispiel, im Programmheft der Berliner Philharmoniker. Die wagten sich an das f-Moll-Klavierkonzert von Max Reger, mit Marek Janowski am Pult und Marc-André Hamelin am Flügel, der dieses spätestromantische Wunderwerk fulminant über die Rampe brachte. Frieda Kwast-Hodapp, die es anno 1910 uraufgeführt hatte, sei, so hieß es dazu, seinerzeit die „bevorzugte Beethoven- und Brahms-Interpretin in den Konzerten von Arthur Nikisch bis Wilhelm Furtwängler“ gewesen. Und: „Sie muss über eine enorme ‚Pranke‘ verfügt haben, sonst wäre sie an Regers kraftstrotzendem Solopart unweigerlich gescheitert.“ Ja, hatte sie. Sogar noch im Alter. Davon zeugt das sensationelle Doppelalbum „German Radio Recordings 1948“ (Melo­classic/Danacord), das wieder aufgefundene Masterbänder präsentiert. Bislang gab es nur eine einzige Aufnahme (Scarlatti, Bach) mit Kwast-Hodapp. 1948, ein Jahr vor ihrem Tod, spielte sie dann für den RIAS besagtes Regerkonzert ein, live im Titania-Palast – eine Super-Pranke! Dazu Klavierstücke von Fortner, Skrjabin und Bach nebst Beethovens Hammerklaviersonate. Sie hatte da bereits mehr als elf Jahre lang pausiert, es sind ein paar Patzer zu hören. Aber auch toller Drive, starke Akzente, eine schlanke, unpompöse Diktion sowie Reste von kühl servierter Virtuosenbrillanz. Kwast-Hodapp war alles andere als eine zweite Elly Ney! Bevor sie selbst 1931 ihre Karriere abrupt beendete, hatte sie in ganz Europa konzertiert, mit Mengelberg, Busoni, Klemperer, Scherchen, Walter, Schuricht, Blech u.v.a.m. Ihr Comeback nach 1941/42 kam nie richtig in Gang. release. 

Musicweb
October 2022 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Rob Challinor ∙ Frieda Kwast-Hodapp ∙ German Radio Recordings 1948

Kwast-Hodapp’s recorded legacy is greatly enhanced by these treasures from German radio. This is such a valuable document. The Reger Concerto will never set the world’s stages alight but to have such a convincing performance by the performer it was written for and who had worked on it with the composer himself is an absolute treasure. I enjoyed the few minutes of her recordings that she laid down in 1933 and never thought I would have the opportunity to get to know this wonderful pianist better and in such a wide and varied range of repertoire; thanks must go to Lynn Ludwig at Meloclassic for another first class release. 

Musicweb
September 2022 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Rob Challinor ∙ Legendary Polish Pianists in East Germany

Meloclassic’s grand unearthing of radio treasures continues with four concertos played by pianists who have fallen into neglect. I have loved discovering these pianists and especially Hesse-Bukowska and Smendzianka who deliver performances that I will return to again and again. Production is excellent as always with good transfers of these broadcast recordings and there is plenty of detail in the biographical notes as well as a photo of Smendzianka and Sztompka at two pianos surrounded by his other students at the Conservatory of the Pomeranian Music Society. A set well worth exploring.

Musicweb
August 2022 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Rob Challinor ∙ Edith Farnadi ∙ Piano Recitals 1966-1968

Farnadi was known as a specialist in Liszt and the first item here ably demonstrates why. She recorded the first Mephisto waltz on 5th May, 1968 and it is immediately clear that here is a pianist who not only has a blistering technique but also one who doesn’t use it to turn the piece into a tired warhorse. There is plenty of light and shade even in the most extrovert passages and she exhibits lightness of touch, quick-fire reflexes and sudden, startling changes of dynamics. In the lyrical central section her legato is silky smooth and the impish flashes of quicker figuration remind me of Cziffra. The speed and security of the fast leaps in the latter half of the piece– and she makes no concession whatsoever to their difficulty – is frankly jaw dropping. There is a lot to enjoy on this disc and for me it is worth the price for the Mephisto waltz. Some spectacular playing from this Liszt specialist. 

Musicweb
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.

Musicweb
August 2022 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Rob Challinor ∙ Alexander Uninsky ∙ Concert Tours in Europe ∙ 1951-1962

An excellent portrait of this Ukrainian pianist with a passionate and extrovert temperament. Uninsky’s star has faded somewhat and though you can still find his recordings there are several works here that he did not record commercially. The sound quality is wonderful allowing Uninsky’s decidedly full sound and clarity of articulation to shine through. As I often find with Meloclassic releases the notes are excellent, full of biographical information.

Musicweb
July 2022 ∙ August 2022 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Rob Challinor ∙ Julius Katchen Piano Recitals ∙ 1946-1965

Katchen recitals span two decades of superior music making. The recitals here were given in Paris, Hamburg, Prades, Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg, from the earliest to the most recent, and expand known reportorial strengths. The booklet notes enhance the fine transfers. These succinct but communicative series of recitals show Katchen at his considerable best.

Musicweb
June 2022 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Jonathan Woolf ∙ Frieda Kwast-Hodapp ∙ German Radio Recordings 1948

It’s especially valuable that these 1948 broadcast performances have survived because they include the Reger, which had been dedicated to her, as well as Bach, whose Preludes and Fugues she often performed. Melo Classic provides a note explaining that Kwast-Hodapp received serious injuries in a railway accident just before she made these radio broadcasts and thereafter had to rely on printed music; she could no longer play from memory. I’m sure this explains the finger slips in the Hammerklavier. But these are maters of superficial interest whereas this twofer is of huge significance. Considering the tribulations that the tapes have been through they sound fine and restoration work has clearly been deservedly lavished on them. This is something of a major undertaking which has been augmented by a first-class booklet note.

Musicweb
May 2022 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Jonathan Woolf ∙ Christian Ferras ∙ Violin Recitals in Germany 1953-1965

Ferras’ legacy remains in safe hands over two and a half hours, during which we are introduced to works new to his discography as well as those that he had played many times before but in different circumstances. The booklet documentation is first class and pays due thanks to Yann Barbizet for his assistance.

Musicweb
May 2022 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Jonathan Woolf ∙ Legendary Soviet Violinists ∙ Concerts in Germany ∙ 1950-1977

Three great Soviet performers are caught in this twofer, in excellent sound, finely remastered and outstandingly well documented. This album is especially valuable for access to the live and radio recordings made by Goldstein (1922-1987), a superbly gifted performer, whose career was sabotaged by Soviet discrimination and who emigrated to West Germany in 1974.

Musicweb
May 2022 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Jonathan Woolf ∙ Christian Ferras ∙ Concert Tours in Europe 1961-1974

This is a fine release that presents broadcast and live material both central to Ferras’ repertoire and new to it. Everything is in first class sound and the documentation is excellent too. The various recordings here have been well selected to amplify or extend his discography.

Musicweb
May 2022 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Jonathan Woolf ∙ Mikhail Waiman ∙ Concerts in East Germany ∙ 1950-1963

Waiman was a formidable performer in the best Soviet traditions. Though taken from different concert venues the sound quality and restoration of the tapes remains consistently good and the documentation is first-class.

La Clef dor ResMusica Logo
December 2021 ∙ ResMusica ∙ Des moments de grâce avec le violon de Roman Totenberg

La Clef d’or ResMusica: Une sélection des meilleures parutions ayant obtenues des Clefs ResMusica tout au long de l’année, par catégories. Sélection archives: “Des moments de grâce avec le violon de Roman Totenberg.”

Musicweb
August 2021 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Wilhelm Kempff · Piano Recitals in France 1955-1961

These live recordings provide a valuable and welcome addition to the pianist’s discography. This 2 disc set comes with exemplary booklet notes, offering some biographical background to the pianist. The well-preserved sources of the recordings offer a pleasant aural experience. These precious documents reveal a pianist of formidable musical intellect and elevated musicianship.

Resmusica
July 2021∙ ResMusica ∙ Stefan Askenase · Piano Recitals in Germany 1952-1968

Meloclassic ne cesse de surprendre en publiant des enregistrements rares et inédits de maîtres du XXème siècle. Parmi les dernières offres du label, il convient de noter en particulier un double album contenant des œuvres de Chopin, Ravel, Schumann et Soler, interprétées par Stefan Askenase, pianiste légendaire de Lviv (né en 1896).

Musicweb
July 2021 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Daniil Shafran · Concert Tours in Germany 1957-1973

This is the second volume of Daniil Shafran’s live airings emanating from the Meloclassic stable that I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing. As in the previous single volume (review), this 2 CD set features recordings sourced from German radio. The recordings have been expertly restored and make a fine addition to the Shafran discography.

Musicweb
July 2021 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Christian Ferras ∙ Concert Tours in Germany 1954–1961

The Prokofiev Concerto from 1961 is the highlight of the set for me. The radio recordings are in excellent sound for their age and provenance, and are an eloquent testimony to the refined artistry of a great violinist. It’s a tragedy that Ferras died far too young, but these recordings certainly do his memory proud.

Musicweb
May 2021 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Andor Foldes · Piano Recitals in Germany 1950-1968

These fine-sounding radio broadcasts have been given a new lease of life, due to the sterling efforts of Lynn Ludwig. The accompanying booklet provides a well-written biographical portrait. In common with all the Foldes’ recordings I’ve encountered, these performances deliver elevated and artful musicianship.

Musicweb
March 2021 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Christian Ferras ∙ Violin Recitals in Hamburg 1951-1964

Recommended Recording. Outstanding in every respect, this release is strongly recommended. Sound quality is consistently good throughout, with the two artists well-balanced. Lynn Ludwig’s restorations are carried out with her usual dedicated skill and expertise. The accompanying liner gives a comprehensive biography of the violinist’s life with its accompanying vicissitudes.

Musicweb
March 2021 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Christian Ferras ∙ Concert Tours in Germany 1954–1961

Recommended Recording. The Meloclassic recordings here – all of D major concertos – are of concerts from Ferras’s German tours between 1954 and 1961. I don’t expect to hear a finer set of discs this year by a violinist than these. These are superb performances by an absolute master of the instrument.

Musicweb
March 2021 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Lilia d’Albore ∙ Violin Recitals in Germany 1939-1955

Listening to the recent releases from Meloclassic has been a learning-curve for me. I refer to the numerous first encounters with long-forgotten artists. The Italian violinist Lilia d’Albore (1911-1988) is one such. Once again I’m thankful for the detailed biographical booklet notes. These live airings derive from four recitals taped between 1939 and 1955. All are denoted as radio studio recordings, and each originates from Stuttgart. This is an artist worthy of your ‘ear-time’.

Musicweb
March 2021 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Legendary Soviet Pianists in East Germany 1953–1960

I found this particular release from Meloclassic especially interesting, as it features two pianists I wasn’t familiar with. I have to admit that I’d never heard of Nina Yemelyanova (1912-1998) before. She possesses both stamina and strength in the recording of Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto. Goldfarb tackles the Tchaikovsky First. It’s a compelling, full-blooded account. Konwitschny proves a sensitive and supportive collaborator. The slow movement overflows with rapt intensity, and the third movement has sufficient bite and tenacity, certainly packing a punch. The accompanying liner provides biographical portraits of the pianists, which is very useful as the internet yields very little information on Yemelyanova and Goldfarb.

Resmusica
February 2021∙ ResMusica ∙ Roman Totenberg ∙ Violin Recitals in Germany 1958-1970

Qui se souvient aujourd’hui de Roman Totenberg ? Dans ses prestations, Roman Totenberg subjugue par une profonde musicalité qui lui permet de déployer une large palette des teintes, d’associer une sonorité « lisse » à des accents résolument âpres. Les prises de son comme les reports sont de bonne qualité. Grâce au travail de restauration de Lynn Ludwig à partir des bandes originales conservées dans les archives des stations de radio allemandes, voici un double disque indispensable pour les amoureux du violon.

Musicweb
February 2021 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Roman Totenberg ∙ Violin Recitals in Germany 1958-1970

It’s regrettable that Totenberg’s star hasn’t shone as brightly as some of Flesch’s top rank students. His repertoire embraced a wide spectrum ranging from Bach to William Schuman, yet his representation in the catalogue is minimal. Thanks to Meloclassic, the balance is somewhat redressed with this fascinating cache of live radio recordings in agreeable sound. I sincerely hope that more of the violinist’s art will surface from this label in the future. Totenberg was an admirable violinist, and his refined artistry is certainly deserving of wider currency.

Musicweb
February 2021 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Yara Bernette ∙ Piano Recitals in Germany 1961-1971

This new release from Meloclassic marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of pianist Yara Bernette (1920-2002) and captures the refined artistry of a pianist largely forgotten.

Musicweb
February 2021 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Miriam Solovieff ∙ Violin Recitals in France 1959 & 1966

This release will especially appeal to violin mavens who wish to seek out rare performances by forgotten artists. I must praise Meloclassic’s new slim-line gatefold; it’s both eco-friendly and space-saving. All told, this release is a valuable and most welcome discographical addition.

Piano Files
January 2021 ∙ Favourite Releases of 2020 by Mark Ainley

2020 saw another set of superb releases by the marvellous collectors’ specialist label Meloclassic, with 9 piano issues and other sets featuring fine violinists and other musicians. Each issue features either well-known artists in rare performances (and/or repertoire) or artists who have been overlooked by posterity. Each of the new sets last year feature inspiring performances by legends such as John Ogden (a jawdropping Hammerklavier and complete Chopin Op.25!), Wilhelm Kempff, Andor Foldes, and Monique Haas (in chamber music – a delight!) as well as less-appreciated artists such as Poldi Mildner (truly top-tier), Hans Richter-Haaser, and Madeleine de Valmalete. A 2-disc set of Soviet pianists included two new to me, Nina Yemelyanova and Tatyana Goldfarb – both fabulous – alongside better known Tatyana Nikolaeva and Lev Oborin. This was my first time to hear Yara Bernette – a 100th anniversary celebratory release – and the Stefan Askenase set was another welcome addition. Collectors know to pay attention when Meloclassic issues their productions and this latest batch is a treasure trove indeed.

Musicweb
January 2021 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Legendary Violinists in Live Concert Performances

This single disc features performances by three female violinists: Guila Bustabo, Michèle Auclair, Lola Bobesco, all near contemporaries. Each was a renowned performer who, for some reason, has migrated off the radar – unjustly in my view. Like many of these past legends, it’s been left to the Japanese and Koreans to keep the candle burning. This is yet another beautifully produced release from Meloclassic.

Musicweb
January 2021 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ John Ogdon ∙ The Ludwigsburg Recital in 1967

Recommended Recording. This live Ludwigsburg recital from 1967 predates these vicissitudes and gives the listener the opportunity to experience this genius of the piano at the height of his powers. The sound quality here is excellent, allowing us to fully savour Ogdon’s wonderful playing. This is a highly desirable release and gets my wholehearted recommendation.

Musicweb
January 2021 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Pina Carmirelli ∙ Concerto Recordings 1963-1967

It’s with great enthusiasm that I welcome another batch of live and radio studio recordings from the Meloclassic label. Now, attention is turned to two radio studio recordings with orchestra set down in the 1960s of concertos by Brahms and Prokofiev. The restorations are beyond reproach, and both performances emerge fresh and fine. Documentation is first class. These recordings make a significant contribution to an otherwise scant discography and should be enthusiastically embraced by violin fanciers.

Musicweb
August 2020 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Edith Picht-Axenfeld ∙ German Radio Broadcast Recordings

It’s with great enthusiasm that I welcome another batch of live and radio studio recordings from the Meloclassic label. Now, attention is turned to two radio studio recordings with orchestra set down in the 1960s of concertos by Brahms and Prokofiev. The restorations are beyond reproach, and both performances emerge fresh and fine. Documentation is first class. These recordings make a significant contribution to an otherwise scant discography and should be enthusiastically embraced by violin fanciers.These well-preserved broadcasts are rewarding in every way, and have been lovingly restored. The detailed biography is more comprehensive than anything you’ll find elsewhere. This is a must-have collection for pianophiles, enabling you to fully savour the refined pianism of a long-forgotten artist.

Musicweb
August 2020 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Hugo Kolberg / Michel Schwalbé ∙ Legendary Concertmasters of the Berlin Philharmonic

This fascinating 2-disc set spotlights two former concertmasters of the Berlin Philharmonic, who can be heard in their solo ventures into concerto, sonata and short piece performances. Another thing they share in common is that they both originate from Warsaw, Hugo Kolberg being born there in 1898 and and Michel Schwalbé in 1919. This fulsomely annotated release, in superb transfers will appeal enormously to violin mavens the world over.

Musicweb
June 2020 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Walter Gieseking ∙ At the Hollywood Bowl 1955-56

The legendary pedal technique is utilised to achieve colour and texture, and the effect is almost hypnotic. The outdoor concerts have been well-captured by the NBC engineers, and the piano is bright and clear. Although his recording career was prolific, these historic documents make a valuable addition to an already well-packed discography. It’s always a pleasure to savour the playing of this wonderful pianist.

Musicweb
June 2020 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Wilhelm Kempff ∙ Piano Recitals in France

Elegantly presented in well-constructed gatefold format, these three live recitals, of historical importance, are a valuable addition to the Kempff discography, which devotees of the pianist will welcome. For inspirational pianism of the highest order, you need look no further.

Musicweb
April 2020 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Erick Friedman ∙ Live Performances in France 1965-1968

The recordings are in very good shape, and the accompanying liner supplies all that is needed. The two concerto performances on CD1 just predate that fateful Tchaikovsky Competition. On CD 2, we travel to the Salle Gaveau, Paris for a live recital taped by ORTF on the 5 March 1968. The pianist is Joseph Seiger, better known as the accompanist of violinist Mischa Elman between 1952-1967.

Musicweb
March 2020 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Tibor de Machula ∙ German Radio Recordings 1944-1952

Two of the radio recordings date from the mid 1940s, with the remaining airings set down in September 1952. Sound-wise, the earliest broadcast from April 1944, namely the Boccherini, is in coarser sound than the Schumann from a year later. The 1952 broadcasts sound significantly better to me, rendering more warmth, bloom and richness to the solo cello. The annotations, provide an excellent, detailed biography of the cellist. Although de Machula’s discography is fairly substantial, these broadcasts add significantly to his recorded legacy.

Musicweb
February 2020 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Reine Gianoli ∙ Recitals in France 1962-1966

Meloclassic’s attractive presentation includes a sturdy gatefold with the booklet notes fitting snugly between the two discs. The liner provides a detailed biography of the pianist together with selections of the pianist in her own words. Of special interest are her recollections of Alfred Cortot as a teacher. The black and white photographs are the icing on the cake.

Musicweb
January 2020 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Walter Gieseking ∙ At the Hollywood Bowl 1955-56

This twofer catches the pianist in unfamiliar open-air concerts performing romantic concertos and more intimate solo works. Mediating between projection and introspection is never easy in such circumstances and it’s fascinating to listen to the decision-making and compromises inherent in trying to do just that. Add two nuggets never before recorded and you have a release to ponder.

Musicweb
January 2020 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Johanna Martzy ∙ Swiss Radio Broadcast Recordings 1947-1969

Martzy’s cult status lives on in these glowing transfers, which are full of warmth and depth. The accompanying biography is the most detailed portrait of the artist I have read so far, supplying information I wasn’t aware of. For violin mavens, this is an essential purchase.

Musicweb
January 2020 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Edith Picht-Axenfeld ∙ German Radio Broadcast Recordings

In fact, this is a most valuable release, bringing to attention, in well-engineered transfers from the master tapes, a musician who has been largely forgotten but who deserves to be remembered.

Musicweb
December 2019 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ György Cziffra ∙ The Besançon Recital 1961

Cziffra was nearly 40 when he gave this recital in Besançon in 1961. The recording quality is splendid as are the customarily excellent booklet notes. This notably fine recital shows the fire and the poetry at the heart of Cziffra’s art.

Musicweb
December 2019 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Samson François ∙ Salle Pleyel Recital 1965

The highlight of this recital for me is the Liszt Sonata. The reading in bold, courageous, passionate and intense, yet bejewelled with poetic lustre. The recital, a live recording from the Salle Pleyel, is dated 19 January 1965. The audio quality is first-rate, with air and resonance around the piano. It makes for a pleasing listen.

Musicweb
November 2019 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ György Cziffra ∙ The Besançon Recital 1961

Here we have a live recital that György Cziffra gave on 16 September 1961 at the Théâtre municipal de Besançon. Most of the programme is the sort of repertoire the pianist favoured. Radio announcements bookend the recital, and audience applause is retained. Schumann’s Piano Sonata No 1 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 11 is the most substantial work here. Cziffra’s performance is utterly compelling, one of the finest I have heard. In a recording dusted down from the archives of Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (RTF), the sound quality is exceptionally fine.

Musicweb
November 2019 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Hugo Kolberg / Michel Schwalbé  ∙ Legendary Concertmasters of the Berlin Philharmonic

Two concertmaster-soloists, four concertos, one sonata and a raft of smaller pieces; that’s the premise of this twofer from Meloclassic. Both Hugo Kolberg (1898-1979) and Michel Schwalbé (1919-2012) were concertmasters of the Berlin Philharmonic and both had been born in, or very near, Warsaw. These fine sounding restorations are housed in a gatefold album with valuable notes. One of the photographs shows both men in the concertmaster positions of the Berlin Philharmonic watching on inscrutably as Karajan takes a grinning bow.

Musicweb
October 2019 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Conrad Hansen ∙ Four Beethoven Sonatas

Recommended Recording. The expert restorations sound very good to my ears. The detailed biographical essay supplies all the necessary background. This is Beethoven playing of the highest order, and it is to be hoped that more of the pianist’s sonata performances will surface in the not-too-distant future.

Musicweb
October 2019 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Johanna Martzy ∙ Swiss Radio Broadcast Recordings 1947-1969

Some of these performances derive from so early in Johanna Martzy’s career that they include her appearance in the final round of the 1947 Geneva Concours international competition when she was still only 22. But in fact, they delve even further back, charting a Swiss broadcast from March that year so those who want to hear this marvelous artist in her early years are in for a real treat. Transfers and documentation are invariably beyond reproach when it comes to Meloclassic’s discs. And Martzy is inevitably a draw for fiddle appreciators.

Musicweb
September 2019 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Janine Andrade / Jeanne Gautier ∙ Legendary French Violinists

The disc is devoted to two French violinists who have both appeared in previous releases from the label, Janine Andrade and Jeanne Gautier. The booklet notes admirably portray the two women’s biographies accompanied by some excellently reproduced photographs. As noted, the sound quality is first class. Because neither woman recorded these works commercially, their admirers will want to add this disc to their shelves.

My selected CDs 0