The Apparent deletion of Great Pianists of the 20th Century

Locked
Peter Schenkman
Posts: 261
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 5:10 am

The Apparent deletion of Great Pianists of the 20th Century

Post by Peter Schenkman » Thu Aug 25, 2005 1:38 pm

The Philips series “Great Pianists of the 20th Century” would appear to have been deleted. The entire series came in 100 mid-priced 2-CD units, each devoted to a single artist. Sheer size apart, this, in my opinion, is a hugely impressive project. 72 pianists, of whom seven giants, (well six giants plus Brendull), Arrau, Brendel, Gilels, Horowitz, Kempff, Richter and Rubinstein are honored with three volumes each; sixteen more artists get two. The total running time is over 250 hours, with most discs very full (some approach 81 minutes!). Much of the music is new to CD. Although Philips' own material (and that of their Decca and Deutsche Grammophon affiliates) figures prominently, recordings were licensed from the other majors (EMI, RCA and Sony) and some smaller labels as well. The deletion of this series, if true is one of the dumbest moves that I have seen a major record company make in a long time, the series while far from being perfect on balance was a major triumph and should have been left in the catalogue for years. At one time the Berkshire Record Outlet was offering the whole thing for $400.00 something of a steal and a company in Europe had it in very limited quantities for $250.00. I would imagine that now out of the catalogue the e-bay prices will reflect the event accordingly and like the price of gas, the Philips series will go sky high.

Peter Schenkman
CMG Cello Specialist

pizza
Posts: 5094
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 4:03 am

Post by pizza » Thu Aug 25, 2005 2:04 pm

I recently saw a few complete sets still available in Israel. The prices varied from expensive to practically give-away. I bought some individual CDs but I never considered getting the entire set -- probably a mistake but I doubt I would find the time to hear it all.

Ralph
Dittersdorf Specialist & CMG NY Host
Posts: 20996
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:54 am
Location: Paradise on Earth, New York, NY

Post by Ralph » Thu Aug 25, 2005 2:09 pm

I have about twenty releases - all excellent - and would buy more at reasonable prices. Perhaps label like Brilliant will re-release this material. There's nothing to be lost by bargain price reissues, is there?
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 17480
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Post by Lance » Fri Aug 26, 2005 2:28 am

If what Peter Schenkman says is true—and it appears to be—I concur about the stupidity of such a move by a major firm "retiring" one of the major projects ever issued in the record industry on any label. I possess 62 volumes but avoided duplicating the Horowitz, Rubinstein, Haskil and other major artists within the set. I have attempted to order a number of them on an individual basis recently from US, Canadian and European operations to no avail. Apparently they are no longer available. What a pity for younger collectors who will undoubtedly become interested in still living- and historical pianists, all of whom teach via these inscriptions as well as provide great listening enjoyment.
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

Ralph
Dittersdorf Specialist & CMG NY Host
Posts: 20996
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:54 am
Location: Paradise on Earth, New York, NY

Post by Ralph » Fri Aug 26, 2005 5:48 am

Wouldn't it be great to start a CMG label!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

pizza
Posts: 5094
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 4:03 am

Post by pizza » Tue Aug 30, 2005 3:00 am

Last evening I listened critically and with careful attention to John Ogdon's performance of Alkan's Concerto for Solo Piano from Op. 39 which appears in the first of two separate releases in this series devoted to Ogdon's artistry. I was completely taken by surprise at the passion and intensity of his playing, which had me enthralled throughout the entire work. Until now I couldn't imagine any performance competing with Marc-Andre Hamelin's spectacular performance of the same on Music & Arts, but here it is. What a fine musician he was when the spirit of a piece grabbed him.

Ralph
Dittersdorf Specialist & CMG NY Host
Posts: 20996
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:54 am
Location: Paradise on Earth, New York, NY

Post by Ralph » Tue Aug 30, 2005 5:26 am

pizza wrote:Last evening I listened critically and with careful attention to John Ogdon's performance of Alkan's Concerto for Solo Piano from Op. 39 which appears in the first of two separate releases in this series devoted to Ogdon's artistry. I was completely taken by surprise at the passion and intensity of his playing, which had me enthralled throughout the entire work. Until now I couldn't imagine any performance competing with Marc-Andre Hamelin's spectacular performance of the same on Music & Arts, but here it is. What a fine musician he was when the spirit of a piece grabbed him.
*****

And I think medical incompetence killed him.
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

pizza
Posts: 5094
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 4:03 am

Post by pizza » Tue Aug 30, 2005 6:13 am

Ralph wrote:
pizza wrote:Last evening I listened critically and with careful attention to John Ogdon's performance of Alkan's Concerto for Solo Piano from Op. 39 which appears in the first of two separate releases in this series devoted to Ogdon's artistry. I was completely taken by surprise at the passion and intensity of his playing, which had me enthralled throughout the entire work. Until now I couldn't imagine any performance competing with Marc-Andre Hamelin's spectacular performance of the same on Music & Arts, but here it is. What a fine musician he was when the spirit of a piece grabbed him.
*****

And I think medical incompetence killed him.
Now you tell me?! :roll:

Peter Schenkman
Posts: 261
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 5:10 am

Post by Peter Schenkman » Tue Aug 30, 2005 8:11 am

pizza wrote...."And I think medical incompetence killed him"

John Ogdon suffered from depressive mood disorders such as major depression or manic-depression (bipolar disorder) which eventually took him over. Many famous people from all walks of life have run into this problem which can be quite emotionally crippling. In the E’s for instance you find the following with the same affliction: Thomas Eagleton, lawyer, U.S. Senator, Thomas Edison, inventor, Edward Elgar, composer, T.S. Eliot, poet, Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer. Going backward to C’s and B’s some those are Noel Coward, Ray Charles, Ty Cobb, Thomas Edison, Irving Berlin, etc. It’s a long list with many household names.

Perhaps not remembered today is the fact that at at the 1962 Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition, Ogden shared the first prize with Ashkenazy. This was at the height of the cold war and wasn’t supposed to happen. Because of the politics of the era Ashkenazy was considered a shoo-in.

Peter Schenkman.
CMG Cello Specialist

pizza
Posts: 5094
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 4:03 am

Post by pizza » Tue Aug 30, 2005 8:22 am

Peter Schenkman wrote:pizza wrote...."And I think medical incompetence killed him"

John Ogdon suffered from depressive mood disorders such as major depression or manic-depression (bipolar disorder) which eventually took him over. Many famous people from all walks of life have run into this problem which can be quite emotionally crippling. In the E’s for instance you find the following with the same affliction: Thomas Eagleton, lawyer, U.S. Senator, Thomas Edison, inventor, Edward Elgar, composer, T.S. Eliot, poet, Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer. Going backward to C’s and B’s some those are Noel Coward, Ray Charles, Ty Cobb, Thomas Edison, Irving Berlin, etc. It’s a long list with many household names.

Perhaps not remembered today is the fact that at at the 1962 Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition, Ogden shared the first prize with Ashkenazy. This was at the height of the cold war and wasn’t supposed to happen. Because of the politics of the era Ashkenazy was considered a shoo-in.

Peter Schenkman.
The original quote about medical incompetence was Ralph's.

Ogdon's mental problems were well-known and first manifested themselves at the height of his career. Although he was institutionalized for several years thereafter and made somewhat of a recovery although certainly not enough to say that he was completely mentally fit once more, and did try to resume his career without nearly the success he once enjoyed, he did have moments of lucidity, both in his playing and in his interpersonal relationships.

According to the liner notes in the "Great Recordings" release, he died of an unexpected bout with pneumonia in 1989 at the age of 52.

Peter Schenkman
Posts: 261
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 5:10 am

Post by Peter Schenkman » Tue Aug 30, 2005 8:31 am

I think that we can agree that his death at the age of 52 tragically put an end to a major artist's career. Ogdon was far more adventuresome at seeking out repertoire, which was most definitely not main stream and then proceeding to play the hell out of it.

Peter Schenkman
CMG Cello Specialist

pizza
Posts: 5094
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 4:03 am

Post by pizza » Tue Aug 30, 2005 8:46 am

Peter Schenkman wrote:I think that we can agree that his death at the age of 52 tragically put an end to a major artist's career. Ogdon was far more adventuresome at seeking out repertoire, which was most definitely not main stream and then proceeding to play the hell out of it.

Peter Schenkman
No question about it. He took tremendous chances both with repertoire and execution in places where few pianists would dare to tread. Listen to his recording of Islamey and you'll hear what is perhaps the most wild and passionate, yet perfect execution of one of the most famous of infamous finger breakers.

Peter Schenkman
Posts: 261
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 5:10 am

Post by Peter Schenkman » Tue Aug 30, 2005 9:30 am

One of the CD’s in the Philips “Great Pianists” series as I recall concludes with Ogden's stunning performance of Islamey, recorded live at the 1962 Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition, which floored the judges and netted Ogden a first prize (shared with Ashkenazy). My only problem is the piece has never been a favorite of mine but the Ogdon performance is very good. There is available on the BBC series (BBCL 4089-2) a program of live Liszt performances recorded between 1967-1971, which is really quite stunning. Both Concertos, Mephisto Waltz (right up there with Kapell and Horowitz), La Campanella and Harmonies du soir. His recording of the little known Sonata by Dukas is also worth tracking down, a good piece far deserving of the next to no exposure that it receives.

Peter Schenkman
CMG Cello Specialist

BuKiNisT
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2005 8:43 pm

Post by BuKiNisT » Tue Aug 30, 2005 3:36 pm

Pizza.
You say you've seen some of the complete sets in Israel recently? :)

Could you please give me a clue as to where. I'd be glad to get one.

Thanks in advance

pizza
Posts: 5094
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 4:03 am

Post by pizza » Tue Aug 30, 2005 10:45 pm

BuKiNisT wrote:Pizza.
You say you've seen some of the complete sets in Israel recently? :)

Could you please give me a clue as to where. I'd be glad to get one.

Thanks in advance
Try Music House in Jerusalem; there's another store in Ramat Aviv, can't remember the name, but it's in the central mall near the university. I don't know how complete the sets are by now; they may have been broken up for sale as individual CDs. It's been several weeks since I saw them. Good luck!

Huckleberry
Posts: 445
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 8:33 am
Location: A mostly gentle person in a mostly gentle land

Re: The Apparent deletion of Great Pianists of the 20th Cent

Post by Huckleberry » Wed Aug 31, 2005 7:02 am

Peter Schenkman wrote:The Philips series “Great Pianists of the 20th Century” would appear to have been deleted. The entire series came in 100 mid-priced 2-CD units, each devoted to a single artist. Sheer size apart, this, in my opinion, is a hugely impressive project. 72 pianists, of whom seven giants, (well six giants plus Brendull), Arrau, Brendel, Gilels, Horowitz, Kempff, Richter and Rubinstein are honored with three volumes each; sixteen more artists get two.
Peter Schenkman
I have a small question for you, Mr Schenkman, which you don't have to respond to in great detail since others here must know your views as an expert. I am interested in why you disapprove of Alfred Brendel. I myself don't know what to think of his playing. It certainly seems unlike most pianists', being more measured, deliberate, less "emotional". But I don't feel that I'm in a position to judge his virtuosity.

Also, I know that his son (called Arthur?) is also a performer. How talented is he?
I finally know what I want to be when I grow up:
Chief Dog Brusher, Music Room Keeper, and Assistant Sunlight Manager
in a hillside Mansion for Ancient Musicians.

Peter Schenkman
Posts: 261
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 5:10 am

Post by Peter Schenkman » Wed Aug 31, 2005 10:31 am

Your question is reasonable, my answer although a bit evasive is, he does very little to me as a performer. You might say that I prefer Brendel's verbal descriptions of musical works to his actual performances of them. “Musical Thoughts and Afterthoughts” and “Music Sounded Out” (both published by Noonday Press in paperback) are interesting reading as Brendel has a keen analytical mind and writes well on many different musical subjects. Between the two volumes you will find essays on Furtwangler, Edwin Fischer, Schubert's Piano Sonatas, quite a few essays on Liszt, several on Busoni, Form and Psychology in Beethoven's Piano Sonatas, Must Classical Music be Entirely Serious? And so on. As to his recordings, For the most part I really don’t like Beethoven and Brahms as performed by him. There is quite a good two disc set on the Philips label of four of Schubert’s Sonatas (D 894, 575, 959, 960) his Impromptus are of equal quality. In the sonatas Brendel seems to penetrate the further reaches of Schubert's psychology with almost morbid narcissism. Some time ago Vox released a six disc set titled “Young Brendel – The Vox Years” and the title says it all. Brendel plays music by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, a lot of Liszt, Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances for piano, four hands (the other two hands belong to Walter Klien), Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Schoenberg. For the most part the performances in this set, some of works he never revisited, are more interesting then what he went on to do for Philips starting in the 1970’s. His virtuosity in the many Liszt works that he plays on this early set is certainly impressive.

I listened to bits and pieces of the Beethoven Cello Sonatas as performed by Adrian and Alfred Brendel, not surprisingly on the Philips label, and found them of little interest. The competition on disc from the likes of Casals, Fournier, Rostropovich, Piatigorsky, Tortelier, Shafran and a host of others is just too much. As to how talented Adrian Brendel is, I’d have to hear him in repertoire that showed more of what he can do with the instrument.

Peter Schenkman
Last edited by Peter Schenkman on Thu Sep 01, 2005 7:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
CMG Cello Specialist

Huckleberry
Posts: 445
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 8:33 am
Location: A mostly gentle person in a mostly gentle land

Post by Huckleberry » Wed Aug 31, 2005 3:09 pm

Thank you kindly, Mr Schenkman. I knew that you would be especially well qualified to judge the father-son Brendel duo.
I finally know what I want to be when I grow up:
Chief Dog Brusher, Music Room Keeper, and Assistant Sunlight Manager
in a hillside Mansion for Ancient Musicians.

premont
Posts: 659
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2005 2:15 pm

Post by premont » Fri Sep 02, 2005 6:50 pm

Peter Schenkman wrote: As to his recordings, For the most part I really don’t like Beethoven as performed by him.
May I ask you to elaborate this a little further?

Peter Schenkman
Posts: 261
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 5:10 am

Post by Peter Schenkman » Fri Sep 02, 2005 7:00 pm

premont wrote:
Peter Schenkman wrote: As to his recordings, For the most part I really don’t like Beethoven as performed by him.
May I ask you to elaborate this a little further?
I think that what I said should suffice. My comments were concise, focused and I think addressed the issue. Beyond going into a bar by bar analysis of any given concerto or sonata movement which is a waste of everyones time, the remarks that I made should address most issues.

Peter Schenkman
CMG Cello Specialist

hcday
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon May 30, 2005 3:00 am
Location: London, U.K.
Contact:

Re: The Apparent deletion of Great Pianists of the 20th Cent

Post by hcday » Sun Sep 04, 2005 1:22 pm

Peter Schenkman wrote:At one time the Berkshire Record Outlet was offering the whole thing for $400.00 something of a steal and a company in Europe had it in very limited quantities for $250.00. I would imagine that now out of the catalogue the e-bay prices will reflect the event accordingly and like the price of gas, the Philips series will go sky high.

Peter Schenkman
I believe that the deletion of this set took place some years ago; hardly news. About 5 years ago, at a guess. That's precisely why Berkshire etc started offering it at a fraction of the original price. Far from driving prices up, the deletion caused retailers to slash prices, at least temporarily, though the value may yet soar in the long term.

It would be interesting to know how many complete sets were sold. Sold without breaking them up into component volumes. Single figures? Double figures? Not more than 100 I'd guess. Sadly, the deletion is an all-too-predictable consequence of figures like these. The majors would appear to review their catalogue on a monthly basis and delete anything whose sales figures dip below pre-set targets. I remember an absurd example from EMI in the 80s: they were releasing the Borodin Qrt's excellent (new) version of Shostakovich's complete qrts, disc by disc. By the time of releasing the final disc they'd already deleted one of the earlier ones, presumably for poor sales. Who on earth, not already owning the deleted volume, would go out and buy the new one, knowing that they'd never complete the set? Madness!!

Regards,
Henry
~~~~~~~
Henry Day
Pianophile
~~~~~~~

pizza
Posts: 5094
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 4:03 am

Post by pizza » Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:43 pm

EMI is indeed the worst offender when it comes to deleting material. I now follow a hard-and-fast rule if I see an EMI disc that interests me -- I buy it while it's still there.

I also wonder why it is so difficult to find used or remaindered copies of deleted CDs. In the days of LPs, there were many stores that specialized in remainder sales of recordings but that's no longer the case.

Ralph
Dittersdorf Specialist & CMG NY Host
Posts: 20996
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:54 am
Location: Paradise on Earth, New York, NY

Post by Ralph » Mon Sep 05, 2005 5:31 am

pizza wrote:EMI is indeed the worst offender when it comes to deleting material. I now follow a hard-and-fast rule if I see an EMI disc that interests me -- I buy it while it's still there.

I also wonder why it is so difficult to find used or remaindered copies of deleted CDs. In the days of LPs, there were many stores that specialized in remainder sales of recordings but that's no longer the case.
*****

I suspect the reason why there's such a small remaindered market is that the initial CD inventory of most releases is very small.

But thank goodness for Academy in Manhattan where second-hand discs, often of obscure releases, are often finds.
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

CharmNewton
Posts: 1926
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2003 9:10 pm

Post by CharmNewton » Mon Sep 05, 2005 9:34 am

pizza wrote:EMI is indeed the worst offender when it comes to deleting material. I now follow a hard-and-fast rule if I see an EMI disc that interests me -- I buy it while it's still there.
I believe this is the lesson that EMI has been teaching for a number of years--get it while you can. Ideally, a new release would sell out on its release date. That not being likely to happen, they give us a few weeks. :)

While not related directly to this subject, I'm not sure that the major labels know what is in their archives anymore. The current management is so far removed in time from the people who produced their best known recordings (and it is anyone's guess if they are even music lovers), the holdings so vast, that it is probably difficult for them to distinguish one recording from another other than by the feedback of sales and perhaps comments of the public. Perhaps they have music lovers on staff with some qualitative knowledge of the material, but planning releases, particularly re-issues, must be a time-consuming task if people have to go back to the archives to evaluate the recordings.

John

premont
Posts: 659
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2005 2:15 pm

Post by premont » Tue Sep 06, 2005 4:52 pm

Peter Schenkman wrote:
premont wrote:
Peter Schenkman wrote: As to his recordings, For the most part I really don’t like Beethoven as performed by him.
May I ask you to elaborate this a little further?
I think that what I said should suffice. My comments were concise, focused and I think addressed the issue. .

Peter Schenkman
No, I don´t think, you answered my question, which was "why don´t you like Brendels Beethoven interpretation". Maybe my question wasn´t put in a clear way. You just wrote, that you don´t like him, and that he as a performer does very little for you. But why? Like Huckleberry I have got an ambivalent reaction to Brendels artistery, not knowing for sure, what to think of him. His interpretations are usually deeply thought out, as it seems, but as he for some reason doesn´t convince me as a performer, I still don´t know, if I shall regard him as a genius or as someone, who do not really understand the music. Given your remarks about Brendel above and your great musical authority, I thought , that you, at least in general terms - not as to individual movements - would widen my horizon a little as to this issue, since you seem to have a more clear opinion about his playing. Excuse me my clumsy language.

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 17480
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Post by Lance » Tue Sep 06, 2005 10:57 pm

I am an on-again/off-again Brendel admirer. It seems that, on recordings, Brendel really had something to say while fresh from his pianistic studies with Edwin Fischer (the latter a pianist who is at the top of my list among the great ones). When I began collecting Brendel's Vox recordings in the late 1950s and into the 1960s, his Schubert playing was among the most remarkable of the "new" generation of pianists; those performances (the Vox Impromptus, for example) have hardly been matched in depth of interpretation and beauty of piano tone and sound with the exception of Artur Schnabel and Edwin Fischer. Brendel's early Vox Liszt recordings (mono only), while weren't well recorded, truly illustrated a pianism above the norm in terms of melding technical resources and virtuosity with a true understanding of what the composer has to say; Brendel has the virtuosity in this music but doesn't wear it on his sleeve. Brendel's Beethoven complete piano sonata recordings were also most rewarding in those days (and they still are), though the recording quality varied greatly in those performances.

The switch to Philips seemed to capture a much more cold-hearted Brendel, with very few exceptions. The exceptions were a couple of discs comprised of variations [426.272 and 432.093] that I thought outstanding and almost brought back the Brendel I knew from the Vox days.

The recording of the Beethoven Cello Sonatas with his son Adrian was a complete disappointment [Philips 0003958] - and even if father and son, there is too much of a gap in artistic development between them, no matter how much latent "talent" Adrian possesses, and obviously he does have some. But at this point in time, and based on this recording, it does nothing in providing me a great listening experience. If anybody shines here, it is the elder Brendel when, instead, it should be a partnership as Beethoven intended.

It seems to me that I read somewhere that even Alfred Brendel recognizes a difference in his playing now and 40 years ago - and at times he preferred his own recordings made in the Vox days.

I have Brendel's Schubert recordings on Vox, and Philips, and also Mitsuko Uchida's on Philips - and on Philips, Uchida reveals herself as a much more sensitive Schubert performer, at least to my ears.

Just my thoughts on the Brendel matter presented here.
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

premont
Posts: 659
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2005 2:15 pm

Post by premont » Wed Sep 07, 2005 3:02 pm

Thanks Lance. I can agree completely with your words, especially in that Brendels style has changed considerably during the time from the almost sensational to a strange blend, and (yes) cold-hearted variety. I heard him in the Vox-days perform 16 of the Beethoven sonatas live, and I was as well impressed as moved by him, and acquired of course soon the Vox set. His first Philips Beethoven cycle was less spectacular, but still acceptable considering the contemporary competition (e.g. John Lill, Barenboim (DG), Gulda (Amadeo). But Brendels latest Philips Beethoven cycle seems to me strangly intellectualized in a manner which perhaps would satisfy as expression of pure music, but which doesn´t take Beethovens expressive character into adequate consideration. Where is his passion, his humour, where is the choleric Beethoven?

pizza
Posts: 5094
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 4:03 am

Post by pizza » Mon Sep 12, 2005 11:59 pm

Back to the subject, I recently found both Jorge Bolet issues and have to say that he was a much better pianist than I had remembered. If these two recordings are representative of Philips' selections and editing for the entire series, they did a wonderful job of separating the wheat from the chaff. I have about a dozen of the individual issues and will have to listen more carefully to them. There are some gems included that are otherwise easily missed.

I can't help but wonder how the editorial choices of pianists were made for the series in the first place. I realize it had to be arbitrary to some degree, but to include, for example, Andre Previn and overlook Simon Barere is in my opinion absurd. Overall, however, even though it failed commercially, it was an extremely worthwhile venture from an artistic viewpoint.

Peter Schenkman
Posts: 261
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 5:10 am

Post by Peter Schenkman » Tue Sep 13, 2005 2:26 pm

As I stated earlier I think that on balance the Philips Great Pianists series was a major success which is not to say they got everything right. Some of the notes and dates were way off base and on at least two occasions the wrong performances got used (Cortot and I believe Moiseiwitsch). Tom Deacon the executive producer and an old friend had a major job in assembling from a vast array of recordings those that would be used, in it self-no easy task, there was also the problem of getting clearance from an awful lot of different sources. I know that the decisions were not Tom’s alone but in the words of Harry Truman, “The buck stops here”. I have quibbles as to who made it and who was omitted as I’m sure many do. I would probably have gone for Simon Barere and in my opinion Samuel Feinberg and Mieczyslaw Horszowski should have been included and Sofronitsky given another issue. I’m not going to get into those who were included that I disagree with as I thinks it’s fair to say that if you sit any twenty piano experts down, give them a piece of paper and ask for choices there will be a fair amount of disagreement. I know that there were problems with the Serkin estate which explains why there’s a rather large gap missing. From roughly 1942 through the 1970’s Serkin recorded for Columbia/CBS/Sony. None of that large body of work was made available which meant you had a few recordings made in Europe in the latter part of the 1930’s and a violent segue to the Mozart Concertos done with Abbado in the early 1980’s. In the intervening forty plus years Serkin did his best work, pity. I also find it a bit strange that Gould’s Bach was left out. Like it or not it was his calling card and had a strong influence on many listeners.

Peter Schenkman
CMG Cello Specialist

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests