Myra Hess The Complete Solo & Concerto Studio Recordings  (5-Appian APR 7504)
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Myra Hess The Complete Solo & Concerto Studio Recordings  (5-Appian APR 7504)
P1240. MYRA HESS: The Complete Solo & Concerto Studio Recordings. (England) 5-Appian APR 7504, recorded 1928-57, American Columbia, English Columbia, HMV 78rpm & Long-Play. Transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 5024709175048

DISC 1: The American Columbia Recordings, 1928–1931: Bach/Hess, Bach, Scarlatti, Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Palmgren, Ravel, Debussy, Griffes, de Falla.

DISC 2: The English Columbia Recordings, 1933: Field, Chopin, Macdowell, Dvorák. The HMV 78-rpm recordings, 1937–1949: Purcell/Hess, Scarlatti, Bach/Hess, Bach, Haydn, Brahms; w.Heward Cond. Hallé Orch.: Mozart - Concerto in C K467.

DISC 3: The HMV 78-rpm recordings, 1937–1949: Schumann – Carnaval; w.Goehr Cond.: Piano Concerto; Variations symphoniques; Cameron Matthay - Album leaf, Elves.

DISC 4: The HMV 78-rpm recordings, 1937–1949: Ferguson - Five Bagatelles, Sonata; The HMV LPs 1952–1957: Beethoven - Sonatas Opp. 109 & 110; Für Elise, Bagatelle Op 126, #3; Mendelssohn - Song without Words. Op 102, #5

DISC 5: The HMV LPs 1952–1957: w. Schwartz Cond. Philharmonia Orch.: Schumann - Piano Concerto; Études symphoniques; Scarlatti, Granados, Brahms, Bach/Hess.


“A reluctant recording artist, Hess missed direct communication with her audience, seeing the studio as a cold and unresponsive alternative. Yet in one disc after another you are drawn towards a deeply personal quality that endeared her to thousands, her very avoidance of fuss or externals somehow creating its own image. And if, as Barenboim so aptly put it, Cortot ‘discovered the opium in Chopin’, Hess conveyed a seraphic beauty that left her listeners, particularly in America, transfixed.

Leaving behind early success in the virtuoso repertoire, Hess moved towards music which she saw as of ultimate stature; and her way with, for example, Beethoven’s Opp 109 and 110 Sonatas is limpid and serene, their underlying dramas played down but not erased. She could surprise, too, in repertoire outside her later purview. What warmth, nuance and freedom in Chopin’s F sharp Nocturne, while her way with Granados’s ‘The Maiden and the Nightingale’ is as romantic as the most ardent lover of this work could wish. More critically, the first disc prompts a feeling of lethargy, most notably in Schubert’s A major Sonata, D664, though even here her Victorian, old-fashioned sentiment is erased in a nimble and vivacious finale. The bittersweet world of the Brahms Intermezzos finds her at her most rapt and communing (try Op 76 No 3), yet her grateful retreat into confidentiality is countered in one Scarlatti sonata in particular (Kk14 in G), spun off with the most life-enhancing joie de vivre and dexterity.

This set will prompt endless reappraisal as well as ample confirmation of Hess’ enduring celebrity.”

- Bryce Morrison, GRAMOPHONE, May, 2013

“Myra Hess’ arrangement and recording of ‘Jesu, joy of man’s desiring’ is, to me, one of the most precious things in the world. I have come to love her playing and to appreciate her massive achievement in the musical world. This present CD is a treasure trove for anyone who has fallen in love with this great pianist and I can guarantee that it will give hours of listening pleasure.

I was delighted that a number of British composers appear in the discography. Chief amongst these is the massive Sonata by Howard Ferguson which is a tragic reflection on the death of his piano teacher Harold Samuel.

The two Beethoven Sonatas are at the heart of Hess’s achievement. Howard Ferguson has written that the ‘recording which comes closest to capturing [her] beauty of tone, human warmth and deep musical understanding is … the Beethoven Sonata in E major, Op.109’. It is certainly a revelation. Her performances of the last three piano sonatas had earned her the greatest of respect.

Finally, Arthur Mendel insisted that Myra had to be challenged by an audience ‘physically present’ and that that the ‘moment she lived for was that in which she felt the triumph of achieving communication to people who at all other moments were by comparison strangers to her’.”

John France, MusicWebInternational

"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.

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