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Weingartner & Schnabel


Beethoven conducted by Felix Weingartner
Overture Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus
Symphony No. 5 in C minor
Piano Sonata in B flat No. 29, Hammerklavier orchestration by Felix Weingartner

Naxos Historical: 8110913


I first got to know Beethoven's 5th on Weingartner's Columbia 78s, and the sound of them remains with me, especially the ghostly, hair-raising transition between the last two movements. It has worn very well and comes up fresh in the Naxos refurbishment. The Hammerklavier orchestration of 1925 (how many good piano performances of it were to be heard in those days?) is intriguing, but I found myself univolved until the slow movement, which benefits from the strings sustaining capacity (not to speak of the RPO's portamenti). The finale, with the weight of its dogged fugue carried by the strings, brought to mind the Grosse Fuge, heard the previous day to bring to completion the City Music Festival cycle from the Borodin String Quartet. I should welcome an opportunity to hear a good modern performance of Weingartner's transcription as a novelty in the next Beethoven Symphonies cycle?


Beethoven played by Artur Schnabel
Piano Sonatas No. 22 in F, No. 23, Appassionata in F minor, No. 24 in F#, No. Sonata No. 25 in G, No. 26, Les adieux in Eb
(Naxos Vol 7)


Naxos Historical: 8110761 [66 mins]

What is there left to say about the Schnabel Beethoven Sonata Society recordings from the early 1930s? Nothing in the recording history of the Gramophone (as it was then called) is more important. This volume brings together some of the best loved and some delectable smaller ones such as Op 54, 78 & 79, each of those 10 minutes or less. They are all alive and enthralling.

If all the recordings of the sonatas since those had disappeared, and these alone remained in Mark Obert-Thorn's judicious restorations, the world would not be too much the poorer. Whichever others you have in your collection, these at £4.99 are self recommending.

© Peter Grahame Woolf