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Stefan Askenase

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The playing of Stefan Askenase was once described as marvel of tender poetry, subtle rubato, and lucid clarity. He had deep sense of musicianship, grasp of musical structure, elemental pianism and visceral yet intellectually weighted emotionality. These rare German radio broadcast recordings span the period 1955-1958, make their first appearance on CD, and there are also works here by Mozart, Chopin and Beethoven.


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STEFAN ASKENASE plays Chopin, Mozart and Beethoven

1. CHOPIN: Scherzo No.4 in E Major, Op.54 [11:41]
2-4. MOZART: Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, K.570 [16:10]

Recorded ∙ 20 October 1955 ∙ Frankfurt ∙ Raum 3/C ∙ Hessischer Rundfunk ∙ Radio Studio Recording

5-7. MOZART: Piano Sonata in G Major, K.283 [13:48]
8-10. MOZART: Piano Sonata in A minor, K.310 [15:46]

Recorded ∙ 02 March 1958 ∙ East Berlin ∙ Funkhaus Nalepastraße Saal 3 ∙ Rundfunk der DDR ∙ Radio Studio Recording

11-14. BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No. 13 in E-Flat Major, Op. 27, No.1 [16:57]
Recorded ∙ 11 December 1958 ∙ East Berlin ∙ Funkhaus Nalepastraße Saal 3 ∙ Rundfunk der DDR ∙ Radio Studio Recording

Additional Information

Article number: MC 1004
Release date: 02 May 2014
UPC barcode: 0791154050040
Total time: 74:21

Producer and Audio Restoration: Lynn Ludwig
Booklet Notes: Michael Waiblinger
Design: Alessia Issara
Photographs: Gustav Hildebrandt, Biblioteka Narodowa
With special thanks to David Ferré
From the Original Masters ∙ © 2014 Meloclassic

Stefan Askenase was born of Austrian-Galician origin in 10 July 1896 in Lemberg, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At the age of five he began playing the piano with his mother, a pianist and pupil of Karol Mikuli. Two years later he commenced lessons with Ksawera Zacharyasiewicz, Franz Xaver Mozart’s pupil, and next with Theodor Pollak, a professor and director of the Ludwik Marek School of Music in Lemberg. In 1913, he left for Vienna to continue his piano studies under Emil von Sauer, a pupil of Franz Liszt’s, and soon made his pianist debut there.


In 1920 he debuted at the Warsaw Philharmonic Hall where on 1 February he played the Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor, and on 6 February he played the Brahms Concerto in B flat major and the Chopin Concerto in F minor. The performances were received with outstanding critical acclaim. One of the critics, Franciszek Brzeziński, wrote: “Flawless technique, unerring memory, the incredible sense of the piano tone, beautiful strike, and above all, extraordinary aptness and heartfelt interpretation – all of these factors immediately place the young pianist among the most important virtuosos ever, and enable us to foresee an exceptional career for him as a performer.”

After his successes in Vienna and Warsaw, Askenase commenced concert touring in Austria, Germany and France. From 1922 to 1925 he lived in Cairo, where he worked as a piano professor at the conservatory. In 1927 he moved to Brussels taking up the position of a professor at the Conservatoire royal, where he taught for forty years. Apart from teaching, he continued to perform in almost all European countries, North America, Africa, and elsewhere. He also taught at the Rotterdam Cons. (1937-40) and the Brussels Cons. (1954-61). In 1950 he became a naturalized Belgian citizen.

His first concert in Poland after World War II took place on 17 May 1946. In 1965, he founded The Arts und Musik Society, whose aim was to preserve the historical railway station in Rolandseck upon the river Rhine. After its restoration the building became a venue for the studios of such artists as Pierre Fournier, Henryk Szeryng, Salvador Dali and Askenase himself. Askenase also taught in summer master classes for pianists in Cologne and Bonn.

He sat on the jury of the 1955 and 1960 International Chopin Competitions in Warsaw. In 1981, to celebrate his 85th birthday, he gave eighty-five performances in Europe. He was noted for his interpretations of Scarlatti, Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms Schubert, Schumann and Albéniz.

Askenase died of heart failure on October 18, 1985 soon after giving his last recital in Emsbüren (Germany).

© Michael Waiblinger 2014


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