C1461. BRUNO MADERNA Cond. Philadelphia Orch., w. VLADIMIR ASHKENAZY (Pf.): Piano Concerto #20 in d, K.466, Live Performance, 1971; BRUNO MADERNA Cond. L’Orchestre Résidence de la Haye, w. WILHELM KEMPFF (Pf.): Piano Concerto #24 in c, K.491, Live Performance, 11 Oct., 1967 (both Mozart). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-375. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Vladimir Ashkenazy is renowned for his performances of Romantic and Russian composers. Midway through his pianistic career, Ashkenazy branched into conducting. He has particularly been praised for his recordings of orchestral works by Sibelius, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Scriabin, Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. He was the principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from 1987 to 1994 and was principal conductor of the Czech Philharmonic from 1998 to 2003. He became musical director of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in 2004, and a biography of Ashkenazy, BEYOND FRONTIERS, has been published.”
- Ned Ludd
“Wilhelm Kempff played to Busoni, heard Eugen d’Albert (one of Liszt’s greatest pupils), and his own teacher, Heinrich Barth, and had been a prize pupil of Hans von Bülow, Liszt’s son-in-law. Kempff wrote about d’Albert and Busoni in detail in his autobiography. These two great pianists, both of whom transcribed Bach’s organ chorale preludes for solo piano, were important musical influences for Kempff. Eugen d’Albert was the first pianist about whom Kempff wrote in his autobiography.
Kempff attended a concert with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, where d’Albert played Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Concerto and Liszt’s Piano Concerto #1. Kempff wrote about the night he listened to d’Albert’s performance: ‘For this was no mere piano playing, but rather a creator who seemed to be creating a whole new world, a world built of tones’. After the concert Kempff encountered d’Albert and had a personal conversation with him about piano technique. D’Albert told Kempff that the piano technique must ‘be joined with the soul and fused into an inseparable union’. The second musical figure that Kempff identifies in his autobiography as an important influence is Ferruccio Busoni. Kempff wrote that the reason why Busoni was a great Bach transcriber was because of Busoni’s sublime spirituality. In Kempff’s private lessons with Busoni, Busoni discussed many aspects of performing piano transcriptions of Bach’s organ works, such as the voicing of the cantus firmus and the various ways of handling texture. Kempff wrote about this experience: ‘[Busoni says] our organ [piano] has only one keyboard, but it can sound like it has many manuals! I am even such a heretic that I believe that most of Bach’s chorale preludes sound better on our contemporary piano than they do on the organ… he [Busoni] brought the chorale ‘Now, Good Christian Men Rejoice’ to life. I [Kempff] don’t say that he ‘played’, because it was much more than that. I was hearing three voices becoming a unified whole,… As Busoni ended the chorale, the boy [Kempff] nodded very quietly. He had understood.…’
In 1924 when Kempff was twenty-nine years old, he was appointed the director of the Württembergische Hochschule für Musik in Stuttgart. He also taught piano classes and conducted his own compositions from 1924-1929. In addition, Kempff also implemented a new department for church music. Kempff’s work with his piano class at the Wurttemberg Conservatory was highly successful from the very beginning. The friendly and relaxed relationship with his students was a precursor for the way he would later conduct his summer courses, first in Potsdam, and after World War II, in Positano. After his directorship at the conservatory in Stuttgart, Kempff began teaching and directing the summer courses for piano in Potsdam, Deutsches Musikinstitut für Ausländer-Sommerkurse in Potsdam. The summer courses allowed him to teach advanced students from around the world. In the summer course Kempff worked with colleagues such as Edwin Fischer, Eugen D’Albert, Leonid Kreutzer, and Walter Gieseking as well as other musicians.
During the next decades Mr. Kempff made concert tours of Germany, Scandinavia, South America and Japan. He rode on the Graf Zeppelin to Buenos Aires in 1934 for a tour; the dirigible received extensive press coverage and was met by a crowd estimated in the millions. Kempff’s debut in England was 17 June, 1935 at the Aeolian Hall in London performing a recital with the violinist Cecilia Hansen. During World War II, he performed mostly in Germany and occupied countries by the Germans. He returned to the Paris concert stage 22 November, 1948 and to London 27 October, 1951 at Wigmore Hall. His American debut happened during the later years of his life when he gave a recital in Carnegie Hall 15 October, 1964.
In 1957 he began to direct Beethoven courses at Positano, Italy, and maintained a home there thereafter. Until late in life, he regularly offered informal advice to young musicians who would visit him at his home. His last recital was given in Holzhausen, Germany 31 July, 1982. He had suffered from Parkinson’s disease in his last years and died on 23 May, 1991 at his home in Positano, Italy. He was 95 years old.
The most unusual thing about Kempff is that there is, indeed, nothing usual about him. It is not surprising that more or less all our encounters with his recordings have consistently range from delightful to unforgettable. Innocence, we suspect, was not the clue to Kempff’s success. He did not achieve these small miracles just by riding around on the winds of inspiration. Or if indeed innocence is the answer, it is innocence hard won.”
- Michael Waiblinger
“Maderna was a musician who couldn't write or conduct a note without wanting to communicate something essential, and essentially human. He is arguably the most underrated figure of the avant-garde; Maderna's music breathes an expressive freedom that makes it, I think, immediately compelling. His commitment to the modernist cause is unassailable. As well as Maderna's own music, there are a handful of recordings you need to hear. There's a white-hot Mahler 9th with the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1971 - one of the most incandescent interpretations I've ever heard, and a thrilling LE MARTEAU SAN MAÎTRE on YouTube; on CD and download, you can find Maderna's Schönberg, Webern, Malipiero, Stravinsky, and even Mozart as well. The most eloquent revelation of how much Maderna meant to the whole generation of post-war composers is the music they wrote in his memory: Boulez's RITUEL IN MEMORIAM BRUNO MADERNA and Berio's CALMO. But the best tribute to Bruno you can give him is to listen to his own music. Enjoy.”
- Tom Service, THE GUARDIAN, 13 Nov., 2013
“Italian composer and conductor Bruno Maderna was one of the preeminent figures in contemporary European music in the mid-twentieth century. By the age of 20 Bruno Maderna had already earned his degree in composition from the Conservatory of Rome and returned to Venice to continue under composer Gian Francesco Malipiero.
In 1948 Maderna took a conducting class with legendary maestro Hermann Scherchen and probably through him got to know Wolfgang Steinecke, the founder of the Darmstadt Festival. Maderna had already met composer Luigi Nono at Ricordi, and would meet Luciano Berio in Milan after leaving the Venice Conservatory in 1952. Steinecke engaged Maderna as a conductor at the Darmstadt Festival, a post that made Maderna a celebrity in postwar European avant-garde and one that he would hold until the end of his days.
As the 1950s gave way to the 1960s, Bruno Maderna's work as a composer began to take a back seat to his activity as a conductor. He was named principal guest conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, appeared frequently with the Juilliard Ensemble, and was musical director for two years at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood. He also spent a great deal of time in the recording studio and produced many fine albums of contemporary music, although in concert Maderna was equally well known for conducting the symphonies of Mahler and other well-worn repertoire of the Viennese classics. Perhaps this had some effect on Maderna's personality as a composer, as well, for by the end of his life he'd turned his back on the serial aesthetic espoused by the Darmstadt Festival and his colleague Pierre Boulez.
When the end came for Maderna at age 53, it did so swiftly - he was diagnosed with lung cancer during the rehearsals for his SATYRICON, which premiered in March 1973, and was dead by that November. His celebrity in America was so short-lived that by 2004 Maderna's name was largely forgotten there, but not so in Europe, where he is yet regarded as one of the giants of postwar modernism.”
- Uncle Dave Lewis, allmusic.com