P1257. VASSILY SAPELLNIKOFF: The Complete Recordings, incl. Balakirev, Rubinstein, Liadov, Alabiev-Liszt, Tchaikowsky, Brahms, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Liszt & Wagner-Liszt; w.Chapple Cond.: Concerto #1 in b-flat (Tchaikowsky), recorded 1923-27 / XAVER SCHARWENKA: The Complete Recordings, incl. Weber, Chopin, Liszt & Scharwenka - recorded 1910-13, Columbia. (England) 2-Appian APR 6016. Transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn. - 5024709160167
"Vassily Sapellnikoff (1868 – 1941) and Xaver Scharwenka (1850 – 1924) were among the earliest generation of pianists to record, and on this ground alone it is surprising that their complete recordings have never before been transferred to CD. Not only do they give us a fascinating insight into nineteenth-century pianism but in the Tchaikovsky Concerto (the premiere recording of the work) we have the pianist who, after his 1888 Hamburg performance under the composer’s baton, went on to become Tchaikovsky’s favoured soloist, witnessed in many subsequent performances they gave together."
“Sapellnikoff was born in Odessa and studied at the Odessa Conservatory under Louis Brassin and Sophie Menter, and became professor of piano at Moscow Conservatory in 1897. He eventually moved to Leipzig and finally settled in Munich. He toured with Tchaikovsky in Germany, France and England, and at his début in Hamburg in 1888, he played Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto #1 in b flat minor with the composer conducting. This concert was a great success and a catalyst for his budding career as a concert pianist in Western Europe. He was the first to play this concerto in England and was the dedicatée of a piano piece by Tchaikovsky
Tchaikovsky wrote about him affectionately in his letters to his brother Modest, in terms such as: ‘Since the time of Kotek I have never loved anyone so warmly as him’. Because they spent so much time together on these tours, it is often asserted that he and Tchaikovsky were lovers.
Sapellnikoff first appeared in England in 1889 playing the Tchaikovsky concerto at a Royal Philharmonic concert, under the composer's baton. He became a favourite at Philharmonic concerts, and created a furor in 1892 by his performance of Liszt's E flat Concerto, accepting a second engagement for the same season. In 1902 he delivered the first performance in England of Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto. In December 1912 he gave the Chopin e minor Concerto, under Percy Pitt; in January 1914 the Rachmaninoff again, under Willem Mengelberg; in November 1914 the Liszt A major Concerto, under Thomas Beecham, a performance repeated in January 1915; and the Second Suite by Rachmaninoff (for two pianofortes) with Simeon Rumschisky in December 1915. He performed the Rachmaninoff again for the RPO with Landon Ronald in January 1923.
In England he amazed George Bernard Shaw with his playing of the octave left-hand passages in Chopin's Polonaise in A flat Heroic. Shaw referred to his left-hand playing as ‘a marvel even among right hands for delicacy of touch and independence and swiftness of action’.
Between 1897 and 1899 he was a professor at the Moscow Conservatory, where his students included Nikolai Medtner.
In spring 1910 Sapellnikoff recorded 12 pieces for the reproducing piano Welte-Mignon, six from his own works. He also made various gramophone records for the Vocalion label, and recorded the 2nd piano concerto of Rachmaninoff for Decca Records in 1929 under Basil Cameron, though this recording was never issued and is thought now to be lost.”
- Z. D. Akron
"Franz Xaver Scharwenka was the younger brother (by three years) of another composer and teacher, Philipp Scharwenka. Neither of them had much formal musical education aside from what was given in their local schools in Posen, Poland. The family moved to Berlin in 1865, where they enrolled at the New Academy of Music. Xaver received piano lessons from Kullak, the head of the Academy, and made rapid progress.
He débuted as a pianist at the Singakademie in 1869 and was hired to teach piano at the Academy. In December, 1874, he began his first concert tour. During his career he would take many tours, traveling throughout Europe, the United States and Canada.
In 1877 he premiered his Piano Concerto in B-flat, written primarily as a showpiece for himself. It and an earlier work (Polish Dance, Op. 3, #1, of 1869) are his most popular works and one of the few frequently played today. This music has attractive melodies, springy dancing rhythms, and little depth.
In 1881 he began organizing concerts, established an annual chamber and solo music series at the Singakademie, and opened his own conservatory in Berlin. In 1886 he began conducting. Following his first tour of the United States, Scharwenka decided to settle there. He opened a new conservatory in New York in 1891. His Berlin conservatory had merged with a rival institution run by Karl Klindworth in 1893, but before long the two had disagreed about policy and Klindworth resigned. Scharwenka returned to Europe frequently, re-settling there with his family in 1898. In Germany he helped found the Music Teachers Federation in 1900 and the Federation of German Performing Artists in 1912. In 1907 he published a piano method (Methodik des Klavierspiels)."
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com