Harold Bauer - 1924-28 Victor Recordings

Author: 
Lionel Salter

Harold Bauer - 1924-28 Victor Recordings

  • Sonata for Piano No. 14, 'Moonlight'
  • Sonata for Piano No. 23, 'Appassionata'
  • Cantata No. 147, 'Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben', Choral: Jesu bleibet meine Freude (Jesu, joy of man's desiring)
  • Caprice on Airs de Ballet from Gluck's 'Alceste'
  • (La) Ritrovata Figlia di Ottone II
  • Impromptus, No. 4 in A flat
  • (8) Fantasiestücke, No. 5, In der Nacht
  • (3) Impromptus, No. 1 in A flat, Op. 29
  • Fantaisie-impromptu
  • (3) Concert Studies, No. 3, Un sospiro
  • Rocky Island, Rêve angélique
  • À la bien-aimée
  • Waltz No. 1
  • Eighteenth Century Tunes, Barberini's Minuet
  • Eighteenth Century Tunes, Motley & Flourish

A few pianists may recognize Harold Bauer's name as the dedicatee of Ravel's Ondine; some record collectors may have HMV early DBs of him playing real oldsters may recall his trio with Thibaud and Casals; but for the rest, Biddulph have a touching faith in everyone's omniscience, since they vouchsafe nothing whatever about him except his excited discovery that, as the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata was marked Alla breve, it could be played so as just to fit on a single 78rpm side.
Bauer was in fact born 120 years ago in New Malden (just south of London), first appeared at the age of nine as a violinist, took piano lessons from Paderewski, and toured widely in Europe and the USA where he settled after the First World War and became an influential figure. His high reputation as a Beethoven interpreter at once becomes understandable from the extremely impressive performances of the two sonatas here (certainly the equal of the slightly younger Schnabel's—EMI, 7/91)—the first movement of the Moonlight subtly flexible and with deeply expressive tonal nuances, its Allegretto gently persuasive, the final Presto raging but perfectly clear; the tension of the Appassionata (and excitement in its finale) combined with absolute clarity throughout, and a beautifully controlled calm in the Andante; and everywhere the most exact observance of all Beethoven's dynamic shadings.
There is an outstandingly fine poetic reading of Liszt's D flat Concert Study, a surgingly romantic Schumann In der Nacht, charm in Schutt's waltz A la bien-aimee and an eighteenth-century minuet transcribed by Bauer himself, virtuosity in a Durand waltz, and deliciously crystalline playing in Chopin's Fantaisie-impromptu, Schubert's A flat Impromptu (wonderfully delicate, if a trifle hurried) and a Saint-Saens transcription of Gluck. (A Gavotte attributed here to Beethoven is in fact by Kozeluch.) With a total absence of hype—indeed, a conspicuously soft sell by Biddulph—here is a great pianist. Emphatically a disc not to be missed.'

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