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Pianist EGON PETRI's non-reissued recordings

Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 1:45 pm
by Lance
Gabe (Hondo) presented a post on the Neglected Pianists thread. He is positively correct about the recordings of pianist Egon Petri. What a marvel of a pianist was this great Dutch pianist. From my earliest years of collecting LPs, Egon Petri was always high on the list. I would like to illustrate what was available on LP, and what I have maintained in my own LP collection:
  • HMV HQM-1112: Beethoven Sonata #24 and recital material
  • HMV HQM-1127: Brahms Violin Sonata #2 (with J. Szigeti)
  • Entré (Columbia) RL-3040: Liszt: Spanish Rhapsody w/Minneapolis SO/Mitropoulos; Chopin: Preludes, Op. 28 (complete)
  • Columbia (USA) ML-4436: Music of Schubert in piano transcriptions
  • HMV HLM-7008: Gounod/Liszt: "Faust Waltz"
  • Veritas VM-116: Petri's "Last Recital" including music of Busoni, Liszt, Schumann: Fantasiestücke, Op. 12
  • International Piano Archives IPA-104: Bach/Busoni Chaconne (from 78s)
  • Westminster XWN-18255: Beethoven: Moonlight, Appassionata, and Pathétique piano sontatas
  • Recital Records RR-430: Beethoven: Sonata #27, Op. 90; Busoni: Indian Diary and All'Italia, Perpetuum Mobile; Liszt: Piano Concerto #2 w/A. Wallenstein, conductor (all live)
  • Electrola C053.01561 [same as HMV HQM-1112 above]
  • World Record Club RI-3: Petri Plays Brahms: 4 Ballades, Op. 10; 3 Intermezzi, Op. 117; 2 Rhapsodies, Op. 79
  • Encore PHS-1277: Beethoven Piano Concerto #4 in G Major; Bach-Busoni: Piano Concerto #1 - orchestras/conductors not named (live)
  • Entré RL-3018: Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto #1 w/London PO, W. Goehr, conductor
  • Encore PHS-1278: Beethoven: Piano Concerto #5 (Emperor) [conductor/orchestra not named]; Chopin Nocturne, Op. 27/2; Schubert/Liszt: Die Forelle
  • Japanese Angel GR-2181: same as HQM-1112
  • MCA/Westminster MCA-14149: Liszt: piano transcriptions
  • Columbia (USA) ML-4479: Beethoven: Piano Sonata #29 (Hammerklavier)
  • CBS Special Products P-14152 [same as Columbia ML-4479 only "stereoized"
  • 10"-Columbia (USA) ML-2049: Bach: Chaconne; Beethoven Sonata #6 in F, Op. 10/2
  • dell'Arte DA-9009: In Recital: Franck: Prelude, Chorale & Fugue; Liszt: 3 Petrarch Sonatas; Busoni: Indianisches Tagebuch; Medtner: 2 piano pieces
  • dell-Arte DA-9012: Beethoven Sonatas 30, 31, and 32 (Live from 1964)
  • Westminster XWN-18844: "Petri Plays" (collection)
  • Westminster XWN-18910: Bach-Busoni transcriptions, including "St. Anne" Prelude and Fugue
  • dell'Arte DA-9016: Beethoven Sonatas #27, #29 (Hammerklavier) (live performances)
  • Westminster W-9350: Beethoven Sonata #29 (Hammerklavier)
Except for LIVE performances, all of the Columbia-derived performances have been reissued on APPIAN compact discs [7023, 7024, 7027, all multi-CD sets and beautifully restored by Bryan Crimp].

None of the WESTMINSTER recordings, which quite possibly represent Egon Petri at his best, and in some of the best SOUND ever afforded him, have never been reissued. The master tapes are now owned by Deutsche Grammophon/Universal, who could have easily put out at least one two-CD set in their "Great Pianists of the Twentieth Century" series taken from the Westminster original tapes. (Replacing André Previn—with no disrespect to his fine pianistic art—with Egon Petri might have been a more appropriate choice!) I highly doubt that DGG/Universal will reissue the Petri recordings since his is a name that has now fallen into near total oblivion. Those of you who have any of these Westminster LPs should hang on to them.

Petri's Westminster "Hammerklavier" sonata of Beethoven, along with the St. Anne Prelude & Fugue of Bach, transcribed by Busoni, is some of the pianists finest recordings of the many he made during his lifetime.

Sound quality in some of the live performances, particularly the Encore LPs, is pretty bad at times, but represent Petri in his only documentation of these works.

I would be happy to list the CDs I have gathered over the years if anyone is interested. BY THE SAME TOKEN, if there are any Westminster LPs not showing on my list above, please advise me with the LP catalogue number and a reference as to what is contained on the LPs.

Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 3:35 pm
by Holden Fourth
Lance, I've often found that e-mailing someone regarding a particular reissue can see that come to fruition. WHy don't you get hold of the guys who decide at DG and ask them if it's possible?

Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 3:42 pm
by Lance
Holden Fourth wrote:Lance, I've often found that e-mailing someone regarding a particular reissue can see that come to fruition. WHy don't you get hold of the guys who decide at DG and ask them if it's possible?
Well, I have done that on occasion, as some others that I know. These days, it simply comes down to money and how much they will get back on their initial investment of providing worthy reissues. While I haven't contacted anyone regarding Egon Petri, I well remember the reaction I had when I got in touch with Jack Pfeiffer of RCA Records trying to get him to reissue Raymond Lewenthal's recording of the piano music of Alkan. On another board, I had also asked people to support me in this request. He was deluged with e-mails and letters in support of the Lewenthal project.

He sent me back a note that it was his intention to NEVER republish that recording. Pfeiffer died soon after. Guess what: the disc was reissued in RCA's "High Performance" (mid-priced) series. Consequently, when he e-mail or sent messags back to those who wrote to him, it always contained MY name as the original issuer of the request; he merely duplicated the same letter and sent it out.

Jack Pfeiffer did a lot for classical music in his role at RCA Victor (including most of Wanda Landowska's recordings in their original form or their reissued form). But he was short-sighted in the opinion of many on making other recordings available again.

I will take your hint insofar as Petri is concerned.

Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 5:07 pm
by Donald Isler
Why did Jack Pfeiffer not want to reissue that disk, Lance? Did he have difficulties dealing with the prickly, but brilliant Mr. Lewenthal?

Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:10 pm
by Lance
Donald Isler wrote:Why did Jack Pfeiffer not want to reissue that disk, Lance? Did he have difficulties dealing with the prickly, but brilliant Mr. Lewenthal?
To be honest, I really don't know why he was so emphatic about NEVER having that disc reissued. I understand that he, too, could be somewhat "prickly." He was a man with a lot of power. At that time, RCA was still financially solvent and, with his command, could do just about anything they wanted. Nonetheless, I'm very happy the RCA CD issue eventually came out because it preserved the sound qualities we found in the LP only better with no vinyl noise. Another label, Elan, also issued the same Lewenthal performances under license from RCA [Elan 82276] even before RCA released their CD. However the sound quality was considerably muffled and not nearly as rich when compared to the original stereo RCA LP.

The RCA "High Performance" series disc is still available as far as I know. It appears as RCA 63310 and I still see it around in some bins on occasion. At mid-price, it's one of the best values of great pianism I've heard. They remain the finest performances of all the repertoire Lewenthal recorded on the disc.

Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:11 pm
by CharmNewton
I would just add that collectors should cross their fingers on Petri. Who would have thought the DG would issue all the Decca recordings of Reginald Kell (in first-rate transfers too.)?

John

Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:16 pm
by CharmNewton
Lance wrote: Jack Pfeiffer did a lot for classical music in his role at RCA Victor (including most of Wanda Landowska's recordings in their original form or their reissued form). But he was short-sighted in the opinion of many on making other recordings available again.
The 1958 recordings of her playing Mozart and Haydn are wonderful. If French RCA hadn't re-issued them on LP (4 discs altogether), I'd never have them.

John

Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:16 pm
by Lance
CharmNewton wrote:I would just add that collectors should cross their fingers on Petri. Who would have thought the DG would issue all the Decca recordings of Reginald Kell (in first-rate transfers too.)?

John
You've got that right, though Kell still has a certain following since he was a clarinetist that gained international recognition and recorded fairly prolifically. Not only that, the repertoire he recorded vs. what pianists record, was quite different fare. So, I'll not only cross my fingers, but my arms and legs. I'd love to see a DGG/Westminster "Petri Edition." It would probably take three or four fully-filled CDs to accomplish the task.

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 7:09 pm
by Hondo
Lance wrote:

"From my earliest years of collecting LPs, Egon Petri was always high on the list. I would like to illustrate what was available on LP, and what I have maintained in my own LP collection"

Lance, you have done all Egon Petri admirerers a huge service by providing a list of the great pianist's LP recordings. I have some of them, but would like to get several others. I plan to contact Mikrokosmos to find out if they have any in stock. Thanks again!

Gabe

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:44 pm
by Auntie Lynn
I have his Chopin Preludes on 78's - an old family treasure handed down over the generations. Mr. Petri was my coach when he was living in Oakland - in addition to being a dear and wonderful gentleman, he was a very, very funny chap...

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 12:01 pm
by lmpower
I am glad to hear that Petri's interpretation of the Hammerklavier sonata is esteemed. I still have my LP recording of it. When I purchased it at a Berkeley store, I asked the clerk if Petri was any good. The clerk replied that Petri had taught at Mills college and was very good. I guess I just got lucky, because this was the only version of the Hammerklavier I knew for many years. I always found it to be a very powerful experience. Petri turned out not to be as obscure and unknown as I thought at the time.