Rosenthal’s complete recordings to be available soon frm APR

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Gregor Benko
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Rosenthal’s complete recordings to be available soon frm APR

Post by Gregor Benko » Tue Sep 27, 2011 6:40 pm

Each year brings further seminal piano issues courtesy of Ward Marston, either on his own label, or on other labels carrying Marston transfers. I am writing to alert members to an upcoming five CD set that will appear soon on the APR label out of England, namely, the complete recorded output of Liszt pupil Moritz Rosenthal. I have just finished hearing all five CDs and am, yet again, humbled by the magnificence that once was romantic piano playing. I have known most of these recordings for decades, but never have they sounded so vibrant and alive – engineer and producer Marston has worked his magic once again.

Many interesting things need to be stated about this set – first, it is absolutely complete, starting with three titles the great virtuoso recorded for the American “Okeh” company in March 1928, that apparently were issued on a unique Argentine Odeon pressing that turned up comparatively recently. Previously it had been thought that his earliest extant recording was the May 1928 Victor recording of his Strauss Fantasy (issued only on Electrola EJ 329.) And what sensational recordings the Okeh’s are! His first recordings of the C sharp minor and E minor Chopin Waltzes, and the Op. 67 No. 1 G major Mazurka, each of which he recorded for other labels later. The differences in the performances are subtle, but within that rarified atmosphere, astonishing….what incredible control of tone and subtle dynamics, in the service of lyricism and poetry.

Next come 28 Chopin selections recorded in the crude, early electrical process by Edison in March and April, 1929 – only two Etudes and four Preludes were issued, and there are alternate takes of the Preludes, as well as versions of The Maiden’s Wish, three Mazurkas, the Op. 42 Waltz, the Black Key Etude and the E flat Nocturne, all with alternate takes, that were not issued on 78 rpm. Edison recorded these at a much-too low level, and consequently there is surface noise that could not be suppressed. (Elsewhere Marston has been successful in eliminating almost all surface noise, without destroying the piano tone.)

Seven weeks later busy Rosenthal was recording at the Lindstrom Parlophone/Odeon conglomerate in Berlin, beginning yet another series of recordings with a Chopin-Liszt My Joys that is one of the most ravishing performances on records. The series continued until March 1931. The rare Odeon Chopin Berceuse is much superior to his Ultraphone recording, and just might be the greatest performance of the work on records. Included is a unique Japanese Parlophone pressing containing four Chopin Preludes that until recently was unknown. Although not quite as well recorded as his HMV recordings, the Lindstrom group is my favorite. Even though Rosenthal’s Reflets das l’Eau and Triana are unstylistic, his Liadov Musical Snuff Box, trifle that it is, is superior to Hofmann’s, and he adds a tiny Liadov Prelude in B flat, inconsequential but pleasing. The series concludes with another version of his stupendous Strauss Fantasy – as Edward Blickstein has written, it is like a huge ocean liner rocking on the sea, giant but weightless.

In the middle of recording for Lindstrom, Rosenthal recorded a short series in Berlin for the Ultraphone label in April, 1930 – four sides including the Liszt 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody (with a small original cadenza), the Chopin Berceuse and Liebestraum. I don’t know how Ward Marston accomplished it, but he has made these sour-sounding originals sound good. For the first time I actually like the Rhapsody performance.

The set’s third CD begins with the 1930 Chopin E minor Concerto, one of the problematic Rosenthal recordings. Somehow the engineers contrived to smother his piano sound, and for most of the concerto it sounds as if the piano were encased in a heavy layer of goo. And conductor Weissman’s pedestrian baton work is anything but inspiring. In this Marstonized version we can now hear some unique sounds in the passage work, but to know something about how this great pianist actually sounded in this work, one has to turn to CD Five, which ends with the December 1937 NBC broadcast on what was announced as the pianist’s 75th birthday, but it was really two days after that milestone. He plays the Larghetto from the same concerto with better conducting (Frank Black), a better orchestra (the “NBC Symphony”) and amazingly vivid sound. It is a unique expression of lyricism, only comparable to the Hofmann performance, and may be the greatest treasure here of all. The broadcast provides us with another rare instance of a great romantic pianist “preluding,” before commencing his solo Strauss fantasy.

Rosenthal’s well-recorded series for HMV was made in England starting February 1934 through October 1937 – highlights include a 1935 E flat Nocturne that wasn’t released on 78 rpm, much more intense than the 1936 version that was issued on a Victor shellac (the superior, up front 1935 recording probably failed the notorious “wear test” as there certainly is nothing about the performance that could be faulted), as well as this master in his own delightful “Butterfly,” and a Liszt Soirée de Vienne No. 6 that might make you forsake Horowitz.

Something happened in 1938 – he lost his health, and perhaps his spirit; his belief in his beloved German idealism and culture must have crashed – he was Jewish, proudly so. His next recordings, made for RCA Victor beginning in June 1939 through March 1942 are sad ruins, like some of Hofmann’s Bell Telephone performances. You would never know it was the same great pianist. This group includes a complete Chopin 3rd Sonata, the Harmonious Blacksmith and Chopin’s Tarantelle. The version of the Chopin-Liszt My Joys is Rosenthal’s conglomeration of Liszt’s early version (published as “Melodies Polonaises”) plus the more familiar later version, and is interesting for that.

The final CD also includes five and a half minutes of an incomplete “live” performance of the same 3rd Sonata’s Largo movement, taken down on an acetate from a London broadcast in March, 1935. This is pure rapture, and although incomplete, one of the greatest of all piano recordings. This has only been available before on the five CD set of “A Century of Romantic Chopin” on the Marston label, and the CD that accompanied Alan Evans’ compilation of articles by Rosenthal.

Beware of claims that Rosenthal didn’t make enough “good records” to produce a CD issue – only an ignorant fool could say that.

Notes for the set will be by the distinguished writer Jonathan Summers, author of the indispensable “A to Z of Pianists” on Naxos, and many other essays on the great pianists.

Gregor Benko

John F
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Re: Rosenthal’s complete recordings to be available soon frm

Post by John F » Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:01 pm

I just came across the NBC broadcast of the movement from Chopin's Concerto #1, on YouTube, and it reminded me of what an extraordinary artist Rosenthal was, besides having one of the great techniques. Delighted that it's includes in the new set, and the existence of the Chopin Sonata #3 excerpt is exciting news. Thanks for posting.
John Francis

Ted Quanrud
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Re: Rosenthal’s complete recordings to be available soon frm

Post by Ted Quanrud » Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:38 pm

Thank you, Mr. Benko, for the information. Do you know when this will be available in the U.S. and from what source? I would love to include it in my all-Liszt radio program on the upcoming bicentenary.

gperkins151
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Re: Rosenthal’s complete recordings to be available soon frm

Post by gperkins151 » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:18 pm

Gregor Benko wrote:Each year brings further seminal piano issues courtesy of Ward Marston, either on his own label, or on other labels carrying Marston transfers. I am writing to alert members to an upcoming five CD set that will appear soon on the APR label out of England, namely, the complete recorded output of Liszt pupil Moritz Rosenthal. I have just finished hearing all five CDs and am, yet again, humbled by the magnificence that once was romantic piano playing. I have known most of these recordings for decades, but never have they sounded so vibrant and alive – engineer and producer Marston has worked his magic once again.
Hi Gregor,

Do you happen to know about how much of this 5CD set has been unissued before? I ask because I spent a great deal of money tracking down the two Pearl CDs, the two Biddulph CDs and the 2CD APR set of the complete HMV 1934-1937 recordings.
George

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Re: Rosenthal’s complete recordings to be available soon frm

Post by Lance » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:51 pm

I will be eager to have the Marston edition of Rosenthal's recordings. APR has done a huge service to the music world with the reissuing of so many great pianists of the past, recordings that have been restored to remarkable listening standards by the best restoration engineers in the business, namely Marston and Obert-Thorn. Parenthetically, I have been enjoying the recent APR issue of all Percy Grainger's recordings and Eileen Joyce's solo recordings, both of which are treasures. Thank you, Gregor, for bringing this set to our attention. ♪
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Wallingford
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Re: Rosenthal’s complete recordings to be available soon frm

Post by Wallingford » Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:46 pm

Fine news indeed.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Gregor Benko
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Rosenthal set availability and # of previously unavailable i

Post by Gregor Benko » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:13 am

At this mopment I do not know when APR will bring out the five CD set of Rosenthal - I am not associated with APR, just had the opportunity to hear the finished Marston transfers because of my connection to Ward Marston. Suggest queries be sent directly to APR:

www.aprrecordings.co.uk

As for which items were never issued before, counting a complete musical selection as one item:

1. The Odeon Berceuse - this supposedly was issued on a Biddulph CD, but that listing was incorrect - Biddulph really inadvertendly issued the much inferior Ultraphone recording of the Berceuse

2. An alternate take of Reflets dans l'eau

3 - 5. The three selections recorded for Okeh

6 - 9. The four Chopin Preludes for Lindstrom from a unique Japanese Odeon

10 - 21. Twelve Edison alternate takes

22 and 23. - two alternate takes of movements from the late Chopin 3rd Sonata

Plus one Lindstrom Chopin Waltz was only ever available on an IPAM compilation CD of items from the Harry Anderson collection, entitled "A Multitude of Pianists." See the IPAM website for that one - it has a lot of interesting stuff.

Rosenthal was so important, and this set so improves on past issues, that anyone who can should dispose of the old issues and obtain this.

Gregor Benko

gperkins151
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Re: Rosenthal’s complete recordings to be available soon frm

Post by gperkins151 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:18 am

Thanks for your fast and comprehensive reply, Gregor.
George

gperkins151
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Re: Rosenthal’s complete recordings to be available soon frm

Post by gperkins151 » Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:44 pm

I just wanted to alert folks who haven't bought this set yet that some of the amazon sellers have it for around $31. Link
George

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Re: Rosenthal’s complete recordings to be available soon frm

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Aug 22, 2012 11:59 pm

I will grab it from J+R this weekend....
Sent via Twitter by @chalkperson

maestrob
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Re: Rosenthal’s complete recordings to be available soon frm

Post by maestrob » Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:01 am

Gregor & George: Thanks for the headsup! Just ordered this set from Amazon: can't wait to hear it!

:D

gperkins151
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Re: Rosenthal’s complete recordings to be available soon frm

Post by gperkins151 » Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:07 am

Chalkperson wrote:I will grab it from J+R this weekend....
I doubt their price will be close to the one I posted, but if so, let me know?
George

gperkins151
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Re: Rosenthal’s complete recordings to be available soon frm

Post by gperkins151 » Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:08 am

maestrob wrote:Gregor & George: Thanks for the headsup! Just ordered this set from Amazon: can't wait to hear it!

:D
My pleasure!
George

gperkins151
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Re: Rosenthal set availability and # of previously unavailab

Post by gperkins151 » Mon Sep 10, 2012 7:00 am

Gregor Benko wrote:At this mopment I do not know when APR will bring out the five CD set of Rosenthal - I am not associated with APR, just had the opportunity to hear the finished Marston transfers because of my connection to Ward Marston. Suggest queries be sent directly to APR:

http://www.aprrecordings.co.uk

As for which items were never issued before, counting a complete musical selection as one item:

1. The Odeon Berceuse - this supposedly was issued on a Biddulph CD, but that listing was incorrect - Biddulph really inadvertendly issued the much inferior Ultraphone recording of the Berceuse

2. An alternate take of Reflets dans l'eau

3 - 5. The three selections recorded for Okeh

6 - 9. The four Chopin Preludes for Lindstrom from a unique Japanese Odeon

10 - 21. Twelve Edison alternate takes

22 and 23. - two alternate takes of movements from the late Chopin 3rd Sonata

Plus one Lindstrom Chopin Waltz was only ever available on an IPAM compilation CD of items from the Harry Anderson collection, entitled "A Multitude of Pianists." See the IPAM website for that one - it has a lot of interesting stuff.

Rosenthal was so important, and this set so improves on past issues, that anyone who can should dispose of the old issues and obtain this.

Gregor Benko
Gregor, I have a few questions you might be able to answer:

1. I assume that the alternate takes were sequenced after the released takes in the series, correct? I ask because they aren't labelled on the documentation for the set.

2. I checked IPAM's website for that Chopin Waltz you mention, but they only list that it was a c# minor waltz and the APR lists 2 c# minor waltzes on CD 2 (Lindstrom group, Tracks 4 and 9.) Do you know which one is the IPAM?

Thanks!
George

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