TCHAIKOVSKY:  Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Minor, Op. 23.  LISZT:  Etude in F Minor.  Au bord d'une source.  Hungarian Rhapsody No. 15. CHOPIN:  Polonaise No. 3 in A.  Fantasie in F Minor, Op. 49.  Etude in F, Op. 25 No. 3.  Etude in F, Op. 10 No. 8.  Etude in A Flat, Op. 25 No. 1.  Polonaise in A Flat, Op. 53
Solomon, pianist/HallÈ Orch; Hamilton Harty, cond.

NAXOS 8.110680 (B) (ADD) TT:  74:34
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GRIEG:  Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16.  LISZT: La Campanella.  CHOPIN:  Twelve Mazurkas.  Nocturne in E Flat, Op. 55 No. 2
Ignaz Friedman, pianist/Symphony Orch; Philippe Gaubert, cond.

OPUS KURA OPK 2009 (F) (ADD) TT:  65:28
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PADEREWSKI:  Piano Concerto in A Minor.  LISZT:  Totentanz.  GERSHWIN:  Concerto in F
Jesus Maria Sanroma, pianist/Boston "Pops" Orch; Arthur Fiedler, cond.

PEARL GEM 0123 (F) (ADD) TT:  73:54
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Here are three reissues of major interest to pianophiles. Highly respected Solomon Cutner (who used only his first name professionally) played the second movement of the Tchaikovsky at his debut in 1910 when he was only eight years old. After years of touring as a prodigy, he gave up the piano for two years after which he resumed studies and, at the age of 22, restarted his career, now a mature artist.This CD contains all of his issued Columbia recordings made from 1930 - 1934; in 1941 he began recording for HMV until he had a stroke in 1956 when at the peak of his career; he died in 1988. This performance of the Tchaikovsky was recorded in November 1929, with a remake of the last three sides the following February. It is a magisterial performance of the greatest power with a distinctive approach to the Prestissimo section of the second movement. The "waltz" section is played slightly slower than usual, said to be a tradition handed down to Mark Hambourg from his teacher Leschitizky. Notice, too, the fine accompaniment for the Tchaikovsky, with Hamilton Harty (not identified as "Sir," although he could have been as he was knighted in 1925), giving Solomon perfect support with a touch of portamento here and there. Solomon was a superb technician—just listen to his rousing Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 15 or the F Minor Etude  A musician of wide interests, Solomon reveled in the new, premiering the piano concerto composed for him in 1939 by Sir Arthur Bliss, and in May 1949 recording the Scriabin Piano Concerto with support from the Maharaja of Mysore. Solomon and conductor Issay Dobrowen weren't quite satisfied with the result in the latte—the recording wasn't issued until 1991 on a long-discontinued EMI CD (CDH 63821, which also contained the 1943 recording of the Bliss concerto). Another lamented CD among the missing is EMI Classics Artist Profile Solomon set (67735) which contained Beethoven's concertos 1 and 3 as well as the Grieg and Schumann. Considering the age of recordings on the Naxos disk one can only have highest praise for Mark Obert-Thorn's transfers, overcoming manifold flaws of the original disks with greatest success. 

Polish-born Ignaz Friedman (1882-1948) is among the legendary pianists of the turn of the Century. After studies at Cracaw and Leipzig, he went to Vienna in 1901 where he worked for four years with the great master Leschetizky. CD notes state he made his debut as soloist with the Vienna Philharmonic playing the Liszt and Tchaikovsky firsts, and Brahms second concertos. If one were to hear just this 1926 recording of the Grieg concerto you could easily wonder what caused all the acclaim Friedman enjoyed throughout his career.This is a high-strung, impulsive performance with unusual bold accents, no subtlety, and more than a few fumbled notes (although not as many as Percy Grainger's live 1957 Danish recording issued on Vanguard). Friedman was at his prime at this time—perhaps this was not approved for issue? 

However, everything is righted with Liszt's La Campanella recorded two years after the Grieg. Friedman embellishes it a bit, abbreviating the ending; this is virtuoso playing of the highest order. A dozen Chopin mazurkas recorded in 1930 are extraordinary—these are not quiet, delicate miniatures, but bold, highly rhythmic dances.  The concluding Chopin Nocturne in E Flat, Op. 55 No. 2, recorded in 1936 is considered by some to be the greatest Chopin recording in history. It's easy to understand why. Friedman also recorded other Chopin works during this period; it's rather strange that a few more weren't included on this CD.

Jesus Maria Sanroma was born in 1902 in Puerto Rico. He showed such promise in his early musical training that he received a government grant which permitted him to study in New York and later in Paris with Cortot and Artur Schnabel who encouraged his interest in "modern" music. Sanroma's professional career began in Boston in 1924—two years later he became staff pianist for the Boston Symphony under Koussevitzky, where he stayed for two decades. He gave American premieres of Stravinsky's Capriccio (which he recorded with Koussevitzky), Ernst Toch's Piano Concerto and the Ravel G Major, and world premieres of concertos by Walter Piston, Vernon Duke and Ferde GrofÈ, the latter dedicated to him. Pearl's CD offers Sanroma with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston "Pops" in premiere recordings of all three works. Liszt's Totentanz was recorded in 1937, before the more familiar Edward Kilenyi Columbia set, Paderewski's concerto in 1939 (Fiedler would record this concerto again in 1970 in London with Earl Wild as a more flamboyant soloist), and the Gershwin which is the first recording to utilize the composer's original scoring for symphony orchestra. Sanroma, his technique impeccable, is as at home in the Liszt and Paderewski as he is in the Gershwin. RCA's sound is remarkably fine for its era in these transfers by Roger Beardsley.  If you're interested in this you may wish to investigate the first Pearl Sanroma issue, which features MacDowell's Concerto No. 2 and other works of Campos, Debussy, Prokofiev, Schonberg and Krenek (GEM 0076).

R.E.B. (March 2002)