P1187. STEFAN ASKENASE: Scherzo #4 in E (Chopin); Sonata in B-flat, K.570; Sonata in G, K.283; Sonata in a, K.310 (all Mozart); Sonata #13 in E-flat, Op.27, #1 (Beethoven). (Germany) Meloclassic 1004, recorded 1955 & 1958, Frankfurt & Munich. Final sealed copy! - 791154050040
“The playing of Stefan Askenase was once described as marvel of tender poetry, subtle rubato, and lucid clarity. He had deep sense of musicianship, grasp of musical structure, elemental pianism and visceral yet intellectually-weighted emotionality. These rare German radio broadcast recordings span the period 1955-1958, and make their first appearance on CD. He was noted for his interpretations of Scarlatti, Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms Schubert, Schumann and Albéniz.
Stefan Askenase was born of Austrian-Galician origin in 10 July 1896 in Lemberg, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At the age of five he began playing the piano with his mother, a pianist and pupil of Karol Mikuli. Two years later he commenced lessons with Ksawera Zacharyasiewicz, Franz Xaver Mozart’s pupil, and next with Theodor Pollak, a professor and director of the Ludwik Marek School of Music in Lemberg. In 1913, he left for Vienna to continue his piano studies under Emil von Sauer, a pupil of Franz Liszt’s, and soon made his pianist début there.
In 1920 he débuted at the Warsaw Philharmonic Hall where on 1 February he played the Schumann Piano Concerto in a minor, and on 6 February he played the Brahms Concerto in B-flat major and the Chopin Concerto in f minor. The performances were received with outstanding critical acclaim. One of the critics wrote: ‘Flawless technique, unerring memory, the incredible sense of the piano tone, beautiful strike, and above all, extraordinary aptness and heartfelt interpretation – all of these factors immediately place the young pianist among the most important virtuosi ever, and enable us to foresee an exceptional career for him as a performer’.
After his successes in Vienna and Warsaw, Askenase commenced concert touring in Austria, Germany and France. From 1922 to 1925 he lived in Cairo, where he worked as a piano professor at the conservatory. In 1927 he moved to Brussels taking up the position of a professor at the Conservatoire royal, where he taught for forty years. Apart from teaching, he continued to perform in almost all European countries, North America, Africa, and elsewhere. He also taught at the Rotterdam Conservatory (1937-40) and the Brussels Conservatory (1954-61). In 1950 he became a naturalized Belgian citizen. Askenase also taught in summer master classes for pianists in Cologne and Bonn.
Askenase died of heart failure on October 18, 1985 soon after giving his last recital in Emsbüren (Germany).”
- Michael Waiblinger
“Meloclassic was founded in by Lynn Ludwig in Germany in December 2013, the label dedicated to releasing previously unissued historical recordings of live radio performances and broadcasts. Whenever possible, the discs include original radio announcements and applause. The recordings are meant to serve as historical documents. The sound quality tends to remain extraordinarily quiet, with no trace of tape or wire hiss."
—Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition, 20 July, 2014
"According to its website, Meloclassic is a ‘non-profit organisation dedicated to releasing previously unissued historical recordings of live radio performances and broadcasts’. The first thing to say is that the material, or most of it, is of exceptional artistic interest, and the sound (which is for the most part extremely clean) is thankfully free of excessive filtering….I look forward to hearing further releases in the not-too-distant future.”
- Rob Cowan, GRAMOPHONE, April, 2014
"Presentation is in a digipack with notes ‘tipped’ in – with excellent photographs, by the way, and helpful text, in English in the case of my copy. Surveying the available discs and seeing details of some of those to come - many violinists, chamber ensembles and pianists – I have no hesitation in saying that this is potentially the most exciting tranche of broadcast material to be made available in many years."
- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWebInternational, 14 June, 2014