Elly Ney  - Beethoven - Heiligenstadt Testament  (Biddulph LHW 033)
Item# P0050
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Elly Ney  - Beethoven - Heiligenstadt Testament  (Biddulph LHW 033)
P0050. ELLY NEY: Sonata #32 in c, Op.111; Sonata #4 in E-flat, Op.7; Sonata #8 in c, Op.13 – Adagio cantabile; Andante favori in F; Six Variations on Nel cor più non mi sento (all Beethoven); HEILIGENSTADT TESTAMENT (Spoken by Ney). (England) Biddulph LHW 033, recorded 1936-38. Transfers by David Lennick. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 744718203321


“…contain[ing] the 1937 performance of Beethoven’s ‘Nel cor piu non mi sento Variations’, tossed off with admirable fluency, Biddulph also include Ney’s moving reading of Beethoven’s ‘Heiligenstadt Testament’, where she enables us to forget temporarily less likeable aspects of her personality; her espousal of National Socialism during the Third Reich and her proudly held title of ‘The Fuhrer’s pianist’….

Her musical wisdom and eloquence are heard at their most impressive in the Largo from Op.7 (the mighty still centre of one of Beethoven’s most ambitious early sonatas). Her sepulchral octaves and plaintive pianissimo reply at 3'12'' suggest only the most sympathetic of spirits and so too, in a very different way, does her delightful insouciance in the tripping central dolce section of the Andante favori. Her Adagio from the Pathtique Sonata (a favourite encore) is finely unsentimental, and in the Adagio from Op.111 (that incomparable ‘journey to the shores of Paradise’) she achieves an exceptional sense of exultation and release in the l’istesso tempo and a dramatic retreat into the shadows in the subsequent pianissimo….first-time listeners anxious to hear Ney at her greatest will turn to her Beethoven on Biddulph.'

- GRAMOPHONE, March, 1996

“At 16 Ney won the Mendelssohn prize (1900) - in a contest of which the famous Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim, was one of the judges. In 1903 she went to Vienna to study with Theodor Leschetizky and Liszt pupil Emil von Sauer, and at nineteen she began the series of concert tours that carried her all over Europe and convinced musical experts there that she was an extraordinary artist. Leschetizky believed that those with slender hands needed to bring more pressure to their touch in order to achieve a sensuous tone. Without any doubt, this issue was addressed in his work with the young German pianist and the results became an integral part of Ney's sound. Even in moments of bold display, however, the lessons learned from Leschetizky remained with her and the tone kept a rounded quality. The evidence of this may be found in her recordings.

Her first concert tour was in Holland, which became her home country for some years, as she married Willem Van Hoogstraaten, a well-known Dutch conductor, in 1911. Ney’s first marriage was ending in 1920, and later, for a short time, she was married to Paul F. Allais (1895–1990) of Chicago. In 1921 Ney and Hoogstraaten travelled to the United States where made her American début on 15 October 1921 in a recital of Beethoven’s works at Carnegie Hall.

Ney enjoyed great success in the United States and her reception was most enthusiastic. Later known for her anti-Semitic views, she had performed with the Jewish violinists Bronislaw Huberman and Carl Flesch in 1924, again at Carnegie Hall. The distinguished trio that she headed, along with cellist Ludwig Hoelscher and violinist Wilhelm Stross (later Max Strub), was founded in the final phase of the Weimar Republic. Even before 1933 Elly Ney had developed a personal idealism that was not without its eccentricities. Ney went with the times and adopted the Nazi ideology, becoming a heroic figure for a regime she wished to fully represent. In 1937, on her birthday, Adolf Hitler conferred on Elly Ney the honorary title of professor. Two years later she became director of the piano classes at the Salzburg Mozarteum. Ney voluntarily joined the Nazi party (#6088559) on 1 May, 1937. According to a report of the German newspaper Hamburg Abendblatt, Ney started her concerts with the Nazi salute.

Because of her omnipresence on Germany’s concert stages during the Nazi period, because of her unconcealed if totally naïve admiration for Hitler, and because she was quite old even then, Elly Ney had been nick-named ’Reichsklaviergrossmutter’ (official piano grandmother of the Reich). Hitler admired Elly Ney as she inaugurated a Hitler Youth Beethoven Festival in 1938.

Ney’s post-war career was haunted by her Nazi past. Because of Ney’s celebrity as ‘the Nazi pianist’, the city of Bonn imposed an official ban on her performing there. Her career, which had flourished in the earlier years of the century, never recovered outside of Germany. She died on 30 March 1968 at her home at Tutzing in South Germany at the age of 85.”

- Michael Waiblinger