P0985. WANDA LANDOWSKA: Bach Recital, (incl.Goldberg Variations [1933 Version]). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-101, recorded 1936, France & 1933, Paris. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
"Almost needless to say, the playing is full of vigorous gestures and individual ideas. She was no respecter of text and there are little repeats here and there which are no more indicated than they are necessary. Yet such matters seem something of an irrelevance, since they only reflect an attitude of the time adopted by a celebrated pioneer of the harpsichord revival in the twentieth century. No, what charms me in Landowska's recital is her affecting poetic insight into Scarlatti's music; she is not just rediscovering the proper conjunction of composer and instrument, she believes in it and feels it intensely."
– GRAMOPHONE, Aug., 1994
"Wanda Landowska's harpsichord recital of last evening at the Town Hall was as stimulating as a needle shower. Indeed, the sound of that princely instrument, when it is played with art and fury, makes one think of golden rain and of how Danaë’s flesh must have tingled when she found herself caught out in just such a downpour….She played everything better than anybody else ever does. That is to say that the way she makes music is so deeply satisfactory that one has the feeling of a fruition, of a completeness at once intellectual and sensuously auditory beyond which it is difficult to imagine anything further.”
– Virgil Thomson, NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE, 22 Oct., 1942
"Landowska toured European museums inspecting period harpsichords and trying them out, then bought old instruments and had Pleyel make her large touring harpsichord. The most controversial aspect of this instrument was its 16-foot stop, an octave below normal pitch, which gave her instrument a deeper, richer sound than any other....in the early 21st century, that Landowska had been right all along when she said to Pablo Casals, 'You play Bach your way and I’ll play him his way'....She was the Goddess of the Harpsichord, the woman who single-handedly revived interest in the harpsichord and made it a mainstream instrument. By the time she died there were also Ralph Kirkpatrick, Sylvia Marlowe and a few others, all inspired by Landowska and following in her footsteps, but it was pretty much accepted that Landowska was Mount Everest and the others were the Blue Ridge Mountains, at best.
Dressed in a plain black dress with a shawl, her hair pulled back in a bun, her beaklike nose pointed towards the keyboard, she was almost like a ‘character’ created for the occasion, a real-life 18th-century woman somehow transported to the 20th….her severe dress and hair style were all part of her presentation. In concert she would have the house lights dimmed slowly until all was in darkness, somehow find her way from the wings to her harpsichord, then have the house lights suddenly turned up to reveal her already seated and starting to play. She usually had a candelabrum on her instrument as well. To a certain extent, then, her act was as much a theatrical presentation….”
- Lynn René Bayley, Art Music Lounge, 25 Aug., 2016
“Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent… [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer – made without filtering, like all his dubbings – it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.”
- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011