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Home » Classical Downloads » Annie Fischer: Beethoven – Piano Sonatas no.19, 15, 30 & 32 (FLAC)

Annie Fischer: Beethoven – Piano Sonatas no.19, 15, 30 & 32 (FLAC)

Annie Fischer: Beethoven - Piano Sonatas no.19, 15, 30 & 32 (FLAC)

Annie Fischer: Beethoven – Piano Sonatas no.19, 15, 30 & 32 (FLAC)

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Annie Fischer
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Label: ICA classics
Catalogue: ICAC5165
Release: 2022
Size: 331 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Piano Sonata No. 19 in G Minor, Op. 49
01. I. Andante
02. II. Rondo

Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28 “Pastoral”
03. I. Allegro
04. II. Andante
05. III. Scherzo
06. IV. Rondo

Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109
07. I. Vivace, ma non troppo
08. II. Prestissimo
09. III. Andante, molto cantabile ed espressivo

Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111
10. I. Maestoso – Allegro con brio ed appassionato
11. II. Arietta

Bryce Morrison, the celebrated critic and authority on piano music, described the pre-eminent Hungarian pianist as follows: ‘Annie Fischer was among the greatest and most richly comprehensive of all pianists’. The distinguished Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter, notoriously critical, described her as ‘an artist imbued with a spirit of greatness and with genuine profundity’. Fischer was universally acclaimed in Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Schubert and Chopin as well as her own compatriots, Liszt, Bartók and Kodály. Despite her international reputation, however, in comparison with other pianists of her generation she is probably the least represented on disc. This was mainly due to a distaste for the recording process – she preferred the freedom and spontaneity of live performances. It is a well known that her studio recordings of the complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas were made over many years and with many different producers. She was never satisfied with the results, so in this BBC recital of selected Beethoven sonatas, Annie Fischer is heard as she would have wanted – live and caught on the wing, making this recording very valuable. Misha Donat, her producer for Sonata No.30, said: “she hated working in the studio so these are real performances; they were always done in a complete ‘take’, though sometimes she would play through a movement twice”.

This is a fascinating reissue of work by a pianist who was never well known to the public; she disliked making recordings and indeed made very few of them. Annie Fischer, born in 1914 in Hungary and active in the concert hall until a few years before her death in 1995, was much admired by her fellow musicians. One admirer was classmate and future Chicago Symphony conductor Georg Solti, who said that Fischer “never really practiced…but she had marvelous fingers, a natural technical ability. She was one of the most musical people I ever met in my whole career.” Both halves of that comment give the listener an idea of what to expect from these recordings, whose origins will remain cloudy to the reader of the booklet — different dates are given in the notes and in the tracklist, and it is not clear whether these were live broadcast performances or studio recordings. (On a reissue disc, sloppiness like that rises from annoyance to significant flaw.) Fischer has a striking insight into the small details of Beethoven’s music, and again and again she crafts complex readings of individual phrases that come together brilliantly and make perfect sense as the music unfolds. The recording of the “Pastoral” sonatas, the Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, heard here is one of the most remarkable on recordings, with Beethoven’s calm, bucolic effects woven together with his evolving structural genius in a way that very few pianists have accomplished. There are plenty of arresting moments as well in the two late Beethoven sonatas on the disc; hear the way Fischer gradually starts pushing the tempo of the Arietta theme of the second and final movement of the Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111, and propels the listener toward the awe-inspiring fireworks to come. The only problem is that when the fireworks arrive, Fischer isn’t quite equipped to handle them technically — maybe because she was hanging out with Georg Solti in the cafés instead of practicing. The Lisztian configurations of simultaneous melodies, trills, and scales at the climaxes of the finales of both Op. 111 and the Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109, do not have the clear articulation of the individual lines that make these difficult but mystically exultant works really come alive. Still, these performances are strongly recommended to anyone who approaches Beethoven’s sonatas with a structural mindset (anyone who likes Artur Schnabel’s versions will find performances here that are quite different but have the same kinds of virtues) and to any pianist working to craft distinctive interpretations of Beethoven. The remastering of the original BBC sound has been well and unobtrusively done.

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