GODOWSKY 12 Impressions. Avowal. Waltz Poems Nos 1 & 2
Like Chopin, every single work by Godowsky features the piano. Unlike Chopin, Godowsky wrote nothing for piano and orchestra, nor any chamber works other than 19 arrangements of some of his own piano solos. Two movements from his Sonata in E minor and 10 numbers from Walzermasken (‘24 Tone Fantasies in 3/4 time’) make up the Twelve Impressions for violin and piano, dedicated to his friends Fritz and Harriet Kreisler (four of these were also arranged for cello and piano).
Whatever his merits as composer and transcriber, Godowsky was rarely an inspired melodist and about halfway through this suite of lushly chromatic (mainly) waltz-time miniatures it begins to sound limited in its range of expression and tempi. The opening Larghetto lamentoso (taken from the fifth movement of the Sonata and played by Mischa Elman at Godowsky’s funeral) and the last, Wienerisch (once recorded by Heifetz), are outstanding. Many of the others convey a mood of sinister or sombre melancholy that makes for dour dancing at this Viennese ball. The later Avowal and Waltz Poems Nos 1 and 2 have much the same character.
For good measure the genial partnership of Nazrin Rashidova and Roderick Chadwick include Heifetz’s arrangement of what is by far Godowsky’s most popular work, Alt Wien (No 11 of Triakontameron, a second, later collection of brief 3/4 piano works), and Kreisler’s transcription of Night in Tangier (No 1 from the same).
The performances are crisper, more persuasive and better recorded (Andrew Walton and Mike Clements at the Wyastone Concert Hall) than the 1989 disc of Twelve Impressions by Gottfried Schneider and Cord Garben, their only previous complete recording.