The tragedy of cellist Emanuel Feuermann

Your 'hot spot' for all classical music subjects. Non-classical music subjects are to be posted in the Corner Pub.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 16943
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

The tragedy of cellist Emanuel Feuermann

Post by Lance » Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:37 am

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com ... SX355_.jpg
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com ... SX355_.jpg
West Hills Radio Archives 6042 [4 CDs as 3 priced]

The tragedy, of course, was the death of this magnificent cellist, aged 39, who died the result of a botched routine hemorrhoidectomy, or perhaps complications resulting from the operation. At the time of his death, Feuermann was considered the greatest cellist alive, taking nothing away from Pablo Casals. Feurmann's passing occurred in May 1942. By that time, he had made a number of acoustic recordings followed by electrical recordings, many truncated due to the time constraints of the 78-rpm method of recording. There were also some live broadcasts that have surfaced, but only a fraction of those he performed on the radio. Most of us who love the cello no doubt already have most of the commercial recordings Feuermann made for Columbia and RCA Victor, particular the chamber recordings he made with Artur Rubinstein and Jascha Heifetz: the Million Dollar Trio, as it was called.

There have been a number of labels that committed Emanuel Feuermann's recordings to CD, including Pearl, Andante, Biddulph, Cello Classics, Chanterelle, Connoisseur Society, Membran, Music & Arts, Talent, Naxos Historical, and as well, EMI, RCA Victor, Philips, and Columbia (78s).

Due to contractual problems, West Hills Radio Archives [WHRA], has issued a four CD set (priced as three CDs), [Unexpcted Discoveries"]. which cannot be sold in the United States, however, this "branch" of Music & Arts found a way to issue legally material not allowed to be sold in the USA. Naturally, given the Internet and the many sources available for "illegal" recordings, we can generally buy whatever we want, thankfully. Among those treasures is the Feuermann set consisting of the complete acoustic recordings made between 1921 and 1926, and select live performances recorded between 1938 and 1941. The set includes many first CD reissues, and 18 CD premieres in all.

Prices vary between $22/USD (used copies) or as much as $68/USD for new copies with some new copies available in-between those prices. Sound restoration has been accomplished by Lani Spahr, well known to collectors for his work. An excellent article is within the booklet by Terry King who delivers an excellent biography of Feuermann. Most great performing artists are one-of-a-kind, but Feuermann goes beyond this distinction.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

John F
Posts: 18856
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: The tragedy of cellist Emanuel Feuermann

Post by John F » Sat Dec 02, 2017 2:07 am

By the 1940s, Feuermann may have been the greatest cellist as regards technical command. He particularly admired Jascha Heifetz and sought to emulate him. But there's more to music-making than technique, and as an interpreter of the music he played, I'd say Feuermann was one of quite a few great cellists of his time, and not necessarily the greatest. It's partly to do with his recorded repertoire; RCA Victor, his record label, was also Pablo Casals's label in the US, so Feuermann wasn't given the opportunity to record any of the Bach suites or other keystone works of the cellist's solo repertoire. Instead his Victor recordings are mainly chamber music with Heifetz and Rubinstein, whose renown and large following made it safe to include the little-known Feuermann instead of the more famous (and more temperamental) Piatigorsky, who took Feuermann's place in Victor's later trio recordings with Heifetz and Rubinstein.

Partly filling the gap are live recordings of Feuermann's concerto performances with the National Orchestral Association conducted by Leon Barzin. The NOA was an ad hoc orchestra of young conservatory graduates preparing for careers as orchestral players, and Barzin was not a great conductor, but he had their Carnegie Hall concerts recorded, the recordings survive in the sound archive of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and some have been published on CD. These include rare repertoire such as concertos by Reicha and D'Albert, as well as redundant recordings such as Strauss's "Don Quixote," better represented by the studio recording with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra and the NBC Symphony broadcast conducted by Toscanini.

Feuermann's epitaph, like Schubert's, might have been "a treasure, but even fairer hopes." Pablo Casals was by far the more important musician, indeed perhaps the most important cellist in history, for reasons in addition to his technique which was less than flawless. EMI and then Columbia are to be praised for recording him so often, sometimes in commercially unappealing repertoire such as the Bach suites (in HMV's "Society" sets), and if this was at the expense of other fine cellists, I think it was the right choice. If Feuermann had lived and continued to develop as an interpreter, more opportunities would have come to him, if not from Victor then from other record labels. But it was not to be.
John Francis

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 16943
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: The tragedy of cellist Emanuel Feuermann

Post by Lance » Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:54 pm

Well thought-out and stated, John Francis!
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

mikealdren
Posts: 272
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:40 am

Re: The tragedy of cellist Emanuel Feuermann

Post by mikealdren » Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:57 am

I have an early CD of Feuermann from the days when CDs were expensive to produce. To optimise the use of the plastic, the left channel contains one set of mono recordings, the right channel, another set.

I've since transferred the contents onto two CDs!

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 16943
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: The tragedy of cellist Emanuel Feuermann

Post by Lance » Mon Dec 04, 2017 2:32 pm

That must be Chanterelle 2001. You are the only other person I know who has a copy of that!
mikealdren wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:57 am
I have an early CD of Feuermann from the days when CDs were expensive to produce. To optimise the use of the plastic, the left channel contains one set of mono recordings, the right channel, another set.

I've since transferred the contents onto two CDs!
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

mikealdren
Posts: 272
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:40 am

Re: The tragedy of cellist Emanuel Feuermann

Post by mikealdren » Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:47 pm

Yes it was, amazing how we accepted that odd solution to keep the costs down. I thought costs would come down but I certainly never expected CDs to become so cheap. Probably because I was brought up with LPs which cost so much in the 1960s.

Even more astonishing is how cheap CD players are, being able to buy a complex laser driven machine for a few pounds (dollars) seemed inconceivable in 1980.

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 16943
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: The tragedy of cellist Emanuel Feuermann

Post by Lance » Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:09 pm

In traversing the "Unexpected Treasures" set on this WHRA set, you will find some sloppy playing at times -- live recordings often reveal these kinds of things. Still, the Feuermann tone is worth hearing most of the time. I found myself very fond of his live recording of the Reicha Cello Concerto.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 21 guests