IGNAZ FRIEDMAN - Volume I
SCHUBERT-LISZT:  Hark, Hark, the Lark.  CHOPIN:  Mazurka in C Sharp, Op. 63 No. 3.  Minute Waltz. Mazurka in D, Op. 33 No. 2. Prelude in E Flat, Op. 28 No. 19.  Etude, Op. 15 No. 6.  Ballade in A Flat, Op. 47 No. 3.  Mazurka in D.  Etudes, Op. 10 Nos. 12 and 7.  Waltz in A Minor, Op. 34 No. 2.  Mazurka in B Minor.  Prelude in D Flat, Op. 25 No. 15.  GAERTNER-FRIEDMAN:  Viennese Dance No. 1.  HUMMEL:  Rondo in E Flat.  MOZART:  Rondo alla Turca.  SCARLATTI:  Pastorale.  MOSZKOWSKI: Serenata, Op. 15 No. 1.  MENDELSSOHN:  Scherzo in E Minor.  BEETHOVEN:  Sonata No. 14 in C# Minor, Op. 27 No. 2  LISZT:  La Campanella.  FRIEDMAN:  Elle danse, Op. 10
IGNAZ FRIEDMAN, pianist
NAXOS 8.110684 (B) (ADD) TT:  74:57
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IGNAZ FRIEDMAN - Volume II
MENDELSSOHN:  Scherzo in E Minor, Op. 16 No. 2.  FRIEDMAN:  Elle danse, Op. 10.  BEETHOVEN:  Allegretto and Presto agitato from Sonata No. 14 in C# Minor.  CHOPIN:  Polonaise in A Flat, Op. 53.  Marche fun╦bre and Presto from Sonata No. 2 in B Flat Minor, Op. 35.  Mazurka, Op. 7 No. 1.  Etudes in G Flat, Op. 25 No. 9 and Op. 10 No. 5.  FRIEDMAN:  Tabati╦re a musique.  Marquis et Marquise.  GRIEG:  Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16.  RUBINSTEIN:  Romance in E Flat, Op. 44 No. 1.  SUK:  Minuet from Suite, Op. 21.  MITTLER: Music Box for the Little Nana, Op. 2 No. 2.
IGNAZ FRIEDMAN, pianist; Orch/Philippe Gaubert, cond.
NAXOS 8.110686 (B) (ADD) TT:  65:15
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IGNAZ FRIEDMAN - Volume III
GLUCK-BRAHMS:  Gavotte.  GLUCK-FRIEDMAN:  Menuet (Judgment of Paris).  SCHUBERT-LISZT:  Hark, Hark, the Lark.  SCHUBERT-FRIEDMAN:  Alt Wein.  CHOPIN:  Polonaise in B Flat. Mazurkas Op. 7 Nos. 1, 2 and 3; Op. 33 Nos. 2 and 4; Op. 24 No. 4; Op. 41 No. l (two versions); Op. 50 No. 2; Op. 63 No. 3; Op. 67 Nos. 3 and 4; Op. 68 No. 2.  Friedman discussing Chopin, rec. Nov. 1940.
NAXOS 8.110690 (B) (ADD) TT:  60:38
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Polish-born Ignaz Friedman (1882-1948) is among the legendary pianists of the early 20th Century.  For more about him, see REVIEW elsewhere on this site. Friedman concertized extensively from the time of his debut in 1905 until partial paralysis of his left hand forced him to retire in 1943. Naxos is planning to issue all of Friedman's recordings, many of which have been issued before at full price. There are remarkable treasures on these first two CDs, performances of style and grandeur displaying extraordinary control and sensitivity. Friedman's Chopin is often idiosyncratic with some odd phrasing in the "Raindrop" prelude and a leisurely start to the finale of the sonata.  The A-minor Waltz and mazurkas are exquisite - and virtuosity displayed in the etudes is stunning indeed. There are some highly individual touches as well in the Beethoven sonata's finale. We also have the opportunity to hear Friedman performing some of his own music including two different recordings of Elle danse, as well as the stunning La Campanella with its abrupt ending explained in Jonathan Summers' fine notes - the 78rpm disk ran out and the final chords couldn't be included.

The only disappointing performance is the Grieg concerto with an unidentified orchestra directed by Philippe Gauber.  This transfer gives the date as "late 1927;" the Opus Kura CD states it was recorded in 1928; no doubt it is the same performance as matrix numbers are the same - and it surely doesn't show the pianist at his best and he is not helped by a scrappy orchestra.  This is Friedman's only concerto recording - he recorded Beethoven's Emperor in March 1927 (with the New Queen's Hall Orchestra conducted by Henry Wood), but it was not approved for release and apparently has been lost.

The third volume is devoted to Friedman's English Columbia recordings from 1928 to 1930, beginning with four transcriptions of Gluck and Schubert followed by 12 mazurkas which CD annotator Jonathan Summers states are perhaps the pianist's most famous recordings.  The story is told of how these were recorded over a period of two years with multiple takes (sometimes up to nine!) of each, concluding, with corroboration from Bryan Crimp, that the reason for the multitude of takes was technical problems with engineering.  The CD ends with a rather rambling 5:11 radio interview recorded in 1940 in New Zealand, apparently, sadly, all that remains of Friedman's many recitals and concerto broadcasts in Australia and New Zealand.  

Ward Marston's restorations are miraculous. One again we are indebted to Naxos for bring us valuable material perfectly remastered and at bargain price.    Highly recommended.

R.E.B. (March 2003)