Edith Farnadi - Robert Goldsand - Egon Petri - Liszt -15 Hungarian Rhapsodies - 6 Paganini Etudes, etc.
Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsodies Nos. 1 - 15 - Edith Farnadi, Piano - Concert Study in D-flat major - Egon Petri, Piano - 6 Grandes Etudes de Paganini - Robert Goldsand, Piano
There are a few "magic" recordings around - and, to my mind, the two 1953 discs made by Edith Farnadi of the first 15 Hungarian Rhapsodies of Liszt count to them. I've thought a lot about why this is so for me, and the closest I can come to it lies in this direction: the artist's life-energy in these performances miraculously "springs" the limitations of the recording medium itself. What is accomplished here belongs to the category of "illusion" (or all-giving "total projection") created by a very high degree of artistry. I'm not only speaking of music here. This can also happen, for example, in the visual arts (my own vocation) where it can go into the other direction (but remains the same phenomenon): a picture suddenly "dances" or becomes imbued with an inexplicable quality of "pure music." This is likely what art / literary critic Walter Pater had in mind near the turn of the 20th century when he wrote that "all art approaches the condition of music". Farnadi's playing becomes an almost palpable presence in the room with us as we listen - and we not only hear these familiar works "as if for the first time" - but can also quickly forget that we're actually hearing mere "sound reproductions." This is the magic of art in action, pure and simple ... something which doesn't happen each and every day.
Included is the attractive original cover art for this album along with the original notes (which use a bit more space than usual since the discs were still packaged in an album of 78rpm format). The cover and the title prefacing the notes to this issue call the Rhapsodies "complete" but this is somehow not totally accurate (so that one doesn't get confused when one reads it ... sort of like when one reads "the complete music of..." at certain commercial download sites). This billing also contradicts the writer of the notes for these recordings: "The present collection will present the nearly complete series. In all there are twenty [19 by another count] ... Only the first fifteen are included in most editions. All of these fifteen were written between 1851 and 1854 and thus comprise a set, whereas the remaining five were produced sporadically up to 1886. ... The manuscript of No. 20 [as of 1953] reposes in the museum in Weimar." (OK - Westminster DID record a lot of great music, but maybe it's asking too much to expect them to have been "perfect" in every respect...)
Robert Goldsand is not exactly forgotten as a pianist - to a certain extent because he had quite a number of students, many of whom are still very much alive. Goldsand's recordings on the other hand seem, at present, few and far between. Here is an LP side of one of them: Concert Hall Society CHS-1149. Quoted in the short biography below, the great Harris Goldsmith remembers Robert Goldsand as a "pianistic charmer" with "debonair technical ease". This apt description (I would only add "with an extremely well-balanced touch of the demoniac") not only fits Goldsand's playing here of Liszt's Paganini Etudes - but could perhaps also apply to how this music, at best, really ought to be played.
Also included is Liszt's Concert study in D-flat major played by Egon Petri (originally a side-filler for a Columbia set of Petri playing Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata"). I've done this partly since it makes a good transition between the Rhapsodies and the Paganini Etudes - but above all because it's performed with exceptional beauty and flair by the former Busoni pupil; and in good sound on top of it all.
Restorations of LP material issued 1953; c.mid-1950s (Westminster and Concert Hall labels); of 78rpm material (Petri - Concert Study in D flat major - Columbia 68982-D from Set X-77), c.1940. Good, clean sound.
Robert Goldsand (March 17, 1911 - September 16, 1991)
Goldsand began musical studies at age four on the violin, but discovery of his talent for the piano, and consequent concentration on that instrument, began within a year. A student of Camella Horn, Joseph Marx, Emil Sauer, and Moriz Rosenthal, Goldsand launched his performing career at age 10, in November 1921, with a concert in Vienna. Thereafter, he engaged in European and South American tours. His US debut came in 1927 at Town Hall in New York City. Upon leaving Vienna to flee the Nazis, in 1940 he settled in the United States, where he gave concerts and took a teaching position at the Cincinnati Conservatory. In 1949, at the invitation of the Chopin Centennial Committee, he performed a complete cycle of that composer's recital repertoire in six concerts. In 1951, Goldsand joined the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, where he continued to teach until 1990. In concert, his repertory ranged widely, embracing music ranging from J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations through works of major 19th century composers such as Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, and Schubert; virtuoso performer-composers like Godowsky and Schulz-Evler; and such 20th century composers as Hindemith.
Goldsand taught legions of students during his long tenure at the Manhattan School, as an Internet search for his name quickly reveals. Among the more celebrated were Harris Goldsmith, Thomas Schumacher, Ralph Votapek, and Anne Koscielny. Henry Edmundson, a student for one year not long before Goldsand’s death, indicates that Goldsand, like any artist-teacher of his rank, expected the student to have memorized the work under study before taking a lesson, which would concentrate on interpretation; according to Edmundson, Goldsand was "a stickler for tradition" and demanded that the student adhere to Goldsand’s way of playing a piece. Harris Goldsmith recalls Goldsand as a "pianistic charmer" with "debonair technical ease," citing an instance when Goldsand demonstrated with his left hand how to obtain the desired legato in the coda of Chopin's fourth ballade.
Most of Goldsand's recordings appeared on the American Concert Hall Society label. Later, Goldsand recorded for the American Desto and Decca labels. Very few of these LP issues have reappeared on compact disc.