Some forty or so years ago, BBC Record Review [the precursor to today's CD Review programme] in its Building A Library section did a comparison of all the extant versions of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto. The reviewer was Joseph Cooper, whom some UK residents may recall used to run a music quiz on TV with his famous "dummy" keyboard. He was a very competent pianist himself and made a number of records for Decca, I think
Comparing all the versions available of this work at the time, Mr Cooper came up with a surprising winner. It was played by Hanae Nakajima with the Nuremberg Philharmonic conducted [I think] by Rato Tschupp [my spelling may be incorrect here]. The recording was available in the UK on, I think, the Wing label [or possibly Windmill], which was a Woolworths product. Being an impecunious youth, I sought out a copy and really enjoyed it, though I didn't think it would compare with some of the great pianists of the day. It cost me the sum of 10 shillings [50p] when a full price record was over £2.
Though my copy of the disc is long gone, I remembered it clearly and a few years ago came across a CD of the performance on the Everyman label, an inexpensive imprint which featured mainly Eastern European orchestras not of the front rank in sometimes doubtful performances. I bought it and listened again [now coupled with Liszt PC No 2]. The artist's name is spelled differently [Nahajima] and the conductor is given as Othmar M F Maga. However, I am sure it is the same performance as that on the LP from the 1970s.
The pianism is excellent, though the orchestral contribution, albeit responsive, is a little thin. The accompaniment in the finale is rather plodding too - presumably the fault of the conductor. The recording - by modern standards - is a little basic also, but perfectly acceptable. These are minor quibbles, however. I have enjoyed listening to this marvellous disc on many occasions but have failed to find out anything about this artist.
Does anyone know anything about her - or was this a pseudonym of someone more famous? Did she make any other recordings?