P0056. ALFRED CORTOT: Etude en forme de valse (Saint-Saens); w.Munch Cond.: Piano Concerto #4 in d (Saint-Saens); Concerto for the Left Hand (Ravel); w.Landon Ronald Cond. London Phil.: Variations symphoniques (Franck). (E.U.) Naxos 8.110613, recorded 1931-35. Transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn. Final copy! - 636943161326
“A voice from another age….Every bar and phrase of these performances induces a frenzy or delirium in the listener, setting the mind and senses reeling….The mechanics…could be erratic, but the technique was scintillating in a way known to very few pianists.”
- Bryce Morrison, GRAMOPHONE, Awards Special Issue, 2007
“… Cortot’s teacher was Louis Diémer, one of Chopin's last pupils and supposed one of his favourites. This means Cortot is in fact the grandson of the Chopin technique, learning from one who was directly instructed how to play these works. Beyond that, he is one of the most remarkable pianists of his or any time, often criticized for an overextensive rubato, but this is the essence of Cortot. He may be the most informed pianist of all time, not only dissecting the notes on the page, but the mind of the composer and life at the time that each composition was invented.
Any enthusiast of Chopin must listen to these recordings with an open mind. At first you will shun them, unaccustomed to the way the pieces differ from today, but soon they will grow on you and you hear each piece as if for the first time, and you realize how far off our modern pianists are from the truth of the music. Most are more technically perfect than Cortot, (he was often missing or hitting wrong notes), but the emotion behind those notes is what is the real importance of the music, something lost in today’s pianists. Someone once said hewould rather hear a good pianist’s wrong notes than a bad pianist’s right ones. And I cannot think of a more perfect personification of that comment than Cortot. In my mind he ranks as one of the top six pianists of the recording era, along with Hofmann, Richter, Horowitz, Gilels, and Moiséiwitsch. But honestly, I find more enjoyment listening to Cortot than any other single pianist on record….”
- Charles R. Hall Jr, 16 Oct., 2004