P0897. MORIZ ROSENTHAL: The Complete Recordings, incl. Chopin, Albéniz, Debussy, Handel, Liadov, Liszt, Schubert, & Rosenthal. (England) 5-Appian APR 7503, recorded 1928-42, Edison, Victor, Lindström, Ultraphon, Gramophone, BBC & NBC, partially unpublished, partially Live Performances. Transfers by Ward Marston. Specially priced. - 5024709175031
“What a fine thing this is! The Polish pianist and Liszt pupil Moriz Rosenthal a great exemplar of 19th Century performance practices, has hitherto been known more by reputation than through recordings. He preferred piano rolls to acoustic records and made his first discs as late as 1928. For the next 15 years, into his 80s, he recorded regularly for a variety of labels, though many of them had but sporadic and limited distribution; some were as scarce as scarce can be.
APR has gathered these together, both issued and unissued, supplemented with alternate ‘takes’ and off-the-air performances, effectively doubling the available recordings, all in meticulously restored sound from the best available sources—sometimes very good indeed. The 104 items consist mostly of Chopin—single sides usually, but also the Piano Concerto recorded for Odeon in 1930-31 and an unpublished third piano sonata made for Victor in 1939. There are also two recordings of Debussy’s ‘Reflets dans l’eau’, works by Albéniz and Liadov, Handel’s ‘Harmonious Blacksmith’, Liszt’s second Hungarian Rhapsody, and several delirious performances of Rosenthal’s arrangements of Johann Strauss.
The general listener should not be put off a collection that seems destined for antiquaries, aesthetes, and snappers-up of rarities. To be sure, Rosenthal had a reputation as an intellect and was not the less intimidating for his command of wit and mustache wax. But his way with music was—dare one say it?—vastly amusing. One can, and perhaps should, fret learnedly over what the pianist acquired from Chopin and Liszt, but the chief thing is Rosenthal himself. Imagine his first barn-storming tour of America in 1888 when he gave over a hundred concerts to trans-Atlantic rubes and rustics! No snobbery there; this was a man of capable of pleasing all manner of audiences in all kinds of places.
In the palmy days of the 19th Century piano virtuoso there was less separation between highbrow and popular music than would be the case after classical music became ‘classical’. Rosenthal’s virtuosity was of that older, less innocent school; he does things with waltzes and mazurkas that might bring blushes to a sailor. Jaw-dropping improvisational things. It is all quite authentic: such outrageousness once won Rosenthal the approval of Brahms and Liszt. As heard on records the by-then-elderly pianist’s inventiveness and displays of shameless virtuosity are of a kind to send erotic shivers down an antiquary’s spine. But there is more here than the mere shock of authenticity — Rosenthal’s playing transcends circumstances and a listener’s knowledge of history. Uncork this unassuming bottle and its concealed genie will sweep you away on golden wings of imagination.”
- David Radcliffe, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, July/Aug., 2012
“Rosenthal was still before the public at the age of eighty, although by this time the titanic thunderings of his youth were replaced by the most subtle of shadings, a wondrously beautiful tone and exquisite poise and control.”
– Jonathan Summers, A-Z OF PIANISTS
"Moriz Rosenthal was from the earliest generation of pianists to have made a significant number of recordings, and he was also one of the more important Liszt pupils, therefore his legacy is of the utmost importance as representative of 19th century style.
In his youth he was renowned as being one of the supreme technicians and, although he began to record only in old-age, this can still be heard in his own two Strauss paraphrases recorded here; still today pinnacles of the most ridiculous virtuosity. But it is for his Chopin above all that Rosenthal should be remembered. In his youth he studied with the composer’s most important student, Karol Mikuli, and his uniquely free lyricism in the Mazurkas and other miniatures must surely be considered close to the composer’s own.
This is the first time all Rosenthal’s recordings have been transferred to CD and two recent discoveries issued only in Argentina and Japan respectively and known only in unique copies are included, as is a beautiful live performance from his 75th birthday concert."
- Z. D. Akron