Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

A batch of historical reissues on BBC Legends, with some comparisons:

Beethoven - John Ogdon/Horenstein
- Wu Han & David Finkel; Gilbert Schuchter; Olga Tverskaya Tchaikovsky/Shostakovich - Rostropovich/Rozhdestvensky/Leningrad P O

John Ogdon grasps you by the scruff of your neck in the Emperor Concerto and never lets go - 1969, at his peak, on tour in Germany with the BBC NSO (BBC Legends: BBCL 4142-2). Splendid, but the studio fill-ups are less so; a straight-forward Beethoven 32 Variations in C minor, and an uninvolving Schubert Sonata in C minor, D958.

Wu Han & David Finkel play two Schubert favourites on ArtistLed 10401-2. Wu Han gives a new, sound account of the score of the great A major sonata D959, but although immaculately played on a fine Steinway (Hamburg Steinway "Hu Wan") and well edited and recorded, it is prosaic by comparison with

Gabriel Schuchter (Tudor 747/49) - whose Bösendorfer sounds far more appropriate - and, best of all is

Olga Tverskaya on a Graf fortepiano (Opus 111 OPS 30-139), scandalously "n.l.a".

Or there's Schnabel, who recorded them before they were fashionable or at all well known (EMI CHS7642592) All these three introduce far more inflection to the rhythms and harmony, not to speak of letting rip in the crazy centre of the D959 slow movement.

Likewise, the Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano is disappointing after the superlative Han/Finkel series of duo sonata recordings; it is of course a transcription from an obsolete instrument; I wonder if there are any recordings on a reconstructed arpeggione and with a more suitable period piano? Again, rather careful and uninspiring - the Rostropovich/Britten version (BBCL 4609742) has to be one's benchmark standard.

Rostropovich & Rozhdestvensky with the Leningrad Phil (BBCL 4143-2) ensure thrills in Shostakovich's first Cello Concerto, and the coupling, Tchaikovsky 4th Symphony is an exciting reminder of the authentic Russian orchestral sound. For those of us who learnt our music on the radio's Third Programme, which became Radio 3, these historic reissues from the BBC archives are immensely evocative inevitably, but they also, stand easily comparison with newer digital performances.


© Peter Grahame Woolf