P1382. FRIEDRICH GULDA: Feux d'artifice (Debussy); w.Rosbaud Cond.: Piano Concerto #14 in E-flat, K.449;
Piano Concerto #23 in A, K.488; w.Keilberth Cond.: Piano Concerto #24 in c, K.491 (all Mozart); w.Müller-Kray Cond.: Piano Concerto #11 in G (Haydn); Piano Concerto #4 in G (Beethoven); Burlesque (Strauss) (the orchestral works all w.Südwest Orch., Stuttgart & Baden-Baden). (Germany) 3-SWR 19088, from original SWR tapes, 1959-62. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 747313908882
“This is the second installment of the SWR CLASSIC series dedicated to Friedrich Gulda. It contains the piano concertos he recorded for the SWR between 1959 and 1962. Although most famous for his Beethoven interpretations, Friedrich Gulda also performed the music of J.S. Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Chopin, Debussy and Ravel.
From the 1950s on he cultivated an interest in jazz, writing several songs and instrumental pieces himself and combining jazz and classical music in his concerts at times. In 1982, Gulda teamed up with jazz pianist Chick Corea, who found himself in between the breakup of Return to Forever and the formation of his Elektric Band. It was this unorthodox practice that, among other things, earned him the nickname ‘terrorist pianist’; Friedrich Gulda had a strong dislike of authorities like the Vienna Academy, the Beethoven Ring of which he was offered in recognition of his performances but which he refused, and even faked his own death in the late 1990s, cementing his status as the enfant terrible among pianists. Nevertheless, Gulda is widely regarded as one of the most outstanding piano players of the 20th century.”
“Friedrich Gulda, an iconoclastic Austrian pianist and composer who was as renowned for his jazz performances as for the intellectual clarity of his Bach, Mozart and Beethoven interpretations, rebelled against the formalities of the classical music world in grand and often comical ways. In the 1950s, he began sitting in with jazz bands - sometimes celebrated ones, like Dizzy Gillespie's - while he was touring as a recitalist and concerto soloist. By the mid-1950s he was including jazz improvisations on his recital programs, and by the early 1970s he was refusing to announce his recital programs in advance. He reportedly once performed a concert in the nude.
His eccentricities had a marked effect on the classical side of Mr. Gulda's career: he went from being a pianist once described by Harold C. Schonberg in THE NEW YORK TIMES as ‘a continuation of the great German traditions of piano playing exemplified by Schnabel and Backhaus’ to one with a small but devoted following.
Although it often seemed that he had torpedoed the classical side of his career with misguided antics, Mr. Gulda usually gave the impression that his rebellion was rooted in deeply held principles. Having accepted the Beethoven Bicentennial Ring from the Vienna Academy of Music in 1970, he quickly reconsidered and returned it, citing his objections to the conservativism of classical music education.
Still, listeners who kept tabs on Mr. Gulda through his recordings were rewarded by illuminating performances in which the elucidation of musical structure was prized over virtuosic flashiness. His recording of both books of Bach's ‘Well-Tempered Clavier’ on the Philips label is highly regarded among collectors and he was represented by two volumes in the Philips Records ‘Great Pianists of the 20th Century’ compendium. Typically, his installments included George Shearing's ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ alongside the Chopin Ballades and a Beethoven concerto.
His interest in jazz blossomed in the 1950s as well. Although he had performed improvisatory jazz informally during his earlier American tours, in 1956 he made a celebrated debut at Birdland in New York. He also performed at the Newport Jazz Festival. He started several groups of his own, from small combos to a big band, the Eurojazz Orchestra. In 1968 he established the International Musikforum, a school for students who wanted to learn improvisation, in Ossiach, Austria.
He never abandoned classical music, but he insisted that his jazz and classical performing be regarded as equal aspects of his musical personality, with composition often bridging the two. His discography frequently drove home that point.”
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 29 Jan., 2000