P0099. EDWIN FISCHER (Conducts & Plays): Symphony #40 in g, K.550; Concerto #20 in d, K.466; w.Harry Datyner: Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat, K.365 (all Mozart). (France) Tahra TAH 534, Live Performance, 12 June, 1953, Strasbourg - the Complete Program. [In primitive sound, as everyone knows.] Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 3504129053413
“It's not so very often that you get a brand-new set of performances from a Golden Age musician as well documented as Edwin Fischer, yet here one comes in the form of a complete, all Mozart concert in Strasbourg in 1953 that provides previously unreleased (as far as I remember) repertoire. In doing so, Tahra has added substantially to our knowledge of both Fischer and Mozart.
The d minor piano concerto (including the oddly florid yet deeply serious cadenzas by Fischer himself) will be familiar to Fischer collectors: direct, almost monochromatically sober, a little less headlong than some earlier recordings (but occasionally a technical scramble nonetheless), and ultimately deriving its power from an unswerving insistence on line. The Symphony is a marvel from beginning to end, crushingly powerful at times in a lithe sort of way, with magnificent French horns in the Trio of the Menuetto and an exhilarating one beat to a bar in the Finale. The Double Piano Concerto is more serious than I have ever heard it before and yet there is a real joy accompanying it that elevates it into far more than the sublime display piece it usually is. And Fischer's cadenzas are to die for with, appropriately enough in light of the program, a reference in the first movement cadenza to K466!....By and large, however, the sound is good enough to provide the listener with significant data about how Fischer used structure to drive pace and drama to a still unmatched degree. This is an incredible ‘find’ that no fan of either Fischer or Mozart should pass up.”
- Laurence Vittes, Audiophile Audition, 2004
“Old wine, new bottle. The d minor was a Fischer favourite and his humanity and understanding illumine every performance of it that we possess. His 1954 commercial recording of it (Philharmonia/Krips) is on Testament and it’s to that performance that those unversed in his intimacy and poetry should turn – not least because the live performance here is very dimly recorded. And yet for those prepared to listen beyond the constricted sound, and beyond Fischer’s occasional and obvious digital fallibility, the lessons to be learned are incalculable.
High amongst them are Fischer’s sense of cantabile phrasing and the impassioned vocalisation, almost operatic power, he finds in K466. He fuses the intimacies and declamatory brilliance in a single emotionally cogent, intellectually rigorous arch, and his sensitively humorous playfulness has its true place in the first movement exchanges. The power of the first movement meets the subtly hued distillations of the Romance, full of - despite the unfavourable recording quality - gloriously persuasive lyricism, that renders incidental Fischer’s slips. Similarly, though to a lesser degree, he brings to K365 a sense of high-spirited clarity and comradely generosity. His partner is Harry Datyner, a fine musician and an apt foil for Fischer. True, not all the runs they make are synchronous but there is a commendable sense of unity and uniformity about their performance that never precludes imaginative individuality.
Unfettered, as it were, by the piano Fischer the conductor gives full vent to his powers of direction in the g minor Symphony. This is a strong and stern reading, quite big boned in the first movement with little gliding portamanti in the second that point to the Adagio-like tempo that Fischer favoured over the written Andante. Here his shaping of the wind themes is immaculate and truly sensitive, whilst the finale is powerful and convulsive. The orchestra is hardly a model of precision engineering but it’s enthusiastic.
Given the provenance of these discs - Tahra notes that the acetates needed ‘extensive restoration’ - this is for specialists….”
- Jonathan Woolf, musicweb-international
“Edwin Fischer was one of the great pianists of the twentieth century, and among the finest piano pedagogues of all time. At the Basle Conservatory his teacher was Hans Huber. He then studied in Berlin with Martin Krause. He established himself as one of the finest pianists of his generation after the war. He became particularly associated with the major works of the great German masters. In 1926 he also became conductor of the Lübeck Musikverein and continued his conducting career in Munich from 1928 to 1932, as director of the Bachverein there. He transferred the base of his career to Berlin in 1932, when he became a member of the faculty of the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, succeeding Arthur Schnabel. He also founded a chamber orchestra [as a result of his] increasing interest in Classical and Baroque music [which] led him to reinstate the authentic method of leading the ensemble from the keyboard while realizing the basso continuo. While his concept of the music of that era remained essentially Romantic in concept, he sought to recover the classical purity of his favored composers, de-emphasizing excessive emotionalism and shifts in the basic pulse. As a result, he was typed as an intellectual pianist. In 1942 he withdrew to Switzerland. After the war, he resumed appearing in chamber music and solo performance throughout Europe. His master classes in Lucerne were in high demand. He founded a foundation, the Edwin-Fischer-Stiftung, to support the beginning of promising young musicians' careers and to aid other needy musicians. As an academic and pedagogue, he published valuable books on musical interpretation and teaching.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com