C1913. ADRIAN BOULT Cond. BBC S.O., w. MYRA HESS: Piano Concerto #4 in G, Live Performance, 14 Jan., 1953;
ADRIAN BOULT Cond. London S.O.: w. STEPHEN KOVACEVICH: Piano Concerto #2 in B-flat, Live Performance, 11 Aug., 1965 (both Royal Festival Hall, London). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1066. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
"Myra Hess (1890-1965) was among an elite of pianists who approached their instrument as a means of conveying music as a spiritual experience. In her youth she was prepared by Tobias Matthay, who also instructed Clifford Curzon. Hess was in contact with violinist Jelly D'Aranyi, pianists Fanny Davies and Carl Friedberg, all acquaintances of Brahms. Her enlightened playing transformed even what sounded as passage work into significant musical statements. Her career began with a debut under Sir Thomas Beecham and made her an instant favorite with British audiences. Tours in the United States and throughout Europe endeared the public to her artistry. During the Second World War, the contents of London's National Gallery were emptied for safe-keeping during the threat of German air attacks. To bolster the public's morale, Hess organized and performed in hundreds of lunch time concerts at the Gallery. She was later ennobled for her efforts. Arturo Toscanini acknowledged her valiant effort by inviting her as one of the first European artists to perform in New York with his symphony after the war's end. It was a noble gesture, but the performance suffered from the Italian conductor's inability to allow the soloist to choose a proper tempo.
Like Artur Schnabel, Hess eventually modified her programs to dwell on the late sonatas of Beethoven, Schubert, suites by Bach, and Romantic era concertos. An avid chamber-music player, she collaborated with Pablo Casals, Pierre Fournier, Joseph Szigeti, and others. Illness in her last years curtailed her concerts but Hess was able to occasionally broadcast from the BBC studios. Hess hated to record but obliged and left several hours of disc recordings. Far more indicative of her playing are the radio recitals preserved and published on CD."
- Allan Evans
“Stephen Kovacevich is widely recognised as one of the most revered artists of his generation. With an international career spanning more than six decades, he has long been recognised as one of the most searching interpretors – ‘A musician completely absorbed in his craft, his interpretations are like no one else’s and always eminate directly from the heart: musical messages of wisdom, peace, resignation, and hope’ (THE WASHINGTON POST).
Kovacevich is known for never being afraid to take both technical and musical risks in order to achieve maximum expressive impact. Through this, he has won unsurpassed admiration for his piano-playing, none more than from Leopold Stokowski, who famously wrote: ‘You do with your feet what I try to do with my Philadelphia Orchestra’.
Born in Los Angeles, Kovacevich laid the foundation for his career as concert pianist at the age of eleven. After moving to England to study with Dame Myra Hess, he made his European debut at Wigmore Hall in 1961. Since then, he has appeared with many of the world’s finest orchestras and conductors, including Hans Graf, Bernard Haitink, Kurt Masur, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Sir Simon Rattle, and the late Sir Georg Solti.”
- Johan Pieters, Knight Classical
“Just prior to the Second World War, Sir Adrian Boult single-handedly built the BBC Symphony Orchestra into a world-renowned ensemble that attracted such artists as Arturo Toscanini, Serge Koussevitzky and Bruno Walter to conduct it. After retiring from the BBC S.O. in 1950, Boult became chief conductor of the London Philharmonic until 1957. He continued to guest conduct and record prolifically until 1978 and enjoyed an ‘Indian summer’ in the studio with both English music (Vaughan Williams and Elgar) and nineteenth-century German repertoire (Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Schubert and Wagner). His early studies at the Leipzig Conservatory with Max Reger and with the charismatic conductor Arthur Nikisch, who knew Brahms, gave Boult a unique understanding of this composer.
Boult’s period in Leipzig also brought him in touch with the music of Mendelssohn, who had founded the Conservatory as well as being appointed as conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra."