S0629. PABLO CASALS: Tartini, Popper, Campagnoli, Schumann & Elgar; w.MIECZSLAW HORSZOWSKI: Cello Sonata #1 in F (Beethoven); w.Casals Cond.London S.O.: Variations on a Theme by Haydn (Brahms). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-226, recorded 1915-39. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
"As the first modern cello virtuoso, Pablo Casals created a new appreciation of the instrument and its repertory when the concert stage was still considered the exclusive playground of the piano and violin. Casals also devoted his formidable musical skills to composition and conducting, leaving many insightful readings of the standard orchestral repertory to posterity via recordings. He is remembered today as much for his pacifism and regard for human life as for his musicianship (he once stated that 'the life of a single child is worth more to me than all my music').
Casals came to his true instrument relatively late in life, having first developed some degree of skill on the piano, violin, and organ. Discovery of the cello at the age of 11 led to studies (from 1887 on) with J. Garcia at the Barcelona Municipal Music School. After a period of supporting himself playing in local cafés, Casals was granted a royal scholarship to the Madrid Conservatory in 1893, where he worked with Tomás Bretón, and later in Brussels in 1895.
After a brief tenure as a cellist at the Folies-Marigny music hall in Paris, Casals returned to teach and perform in Barcelona, and joined the first of a series of notable chamber ensembles with which he would be associated: a piano trio with Belgian violinist Crickboom and well known pianist and composer Enrique Granados. In 1919 Casals founded the Orquestra Pau Casals in Barcelona. Although the project was quite successful, the outbreak of civil war in 1936 forced its dissolution. Casals, who spoke out vehemently against the Franco regime, was forced to seek refuge in the Catalan village of Prades. Following the Second World War, saddened by the lack of any definitive action against the Franco regime by major world powers, Casals elected to cease performing as an act of protest.
Inspired by the Bach bicentenary celebrations of 1950 at the first annual Prades Festival, Casals came out of retirement to begin a new series of recordings and concerts. In 1956 he made a new home in Puerto Rico, where he founded the Puerto Rico Festival. Though nearing 85, he began a campaign for peace in 1962, traveling around the world to conduct performances of his oratorio EL PESSEBRE (The Manger). Casals continued to make occasional concert appearances until virtually the end of his life in 1973.
Casals' impact on cello playing in the twentieth century cannot be overestimated. His radical approach to bow and finger technique produced a mechanical prowess far beyond any other cellist of the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. In addition, Casals was the first cellist to incorporate the kind of left-hand shifting techniques which had been employed for decades by violinists, thus allowing for far greater agility on the cello than had been previously thought possible. Always scornful of superficial virtuosi, Casals strove tirelessly to develop and maintain the kind of intense musical concentration which he considered to be the true artist's responsibility."
- Blair Johnston, allmusic.com
"Mieczyslaw Horszowski, a pianist whose performances were admired for their elegance, reflectiveness and clarity of musical intent in a career that lasted more than nine decades, made his debut as a child prodigy, playing a Beethoven concerto in Warsaw in 1901, and continued giving concerts and making recordings until last year. He was not so famous as Arthur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz or other elder statesmen of the keyboard in the late 20th century. But he always had a strong cult following, and in recent years his reputation and audience blossomed anew as a younger generation discovered him through a recent series of recordings that reveal his special mastery of the works of Chopin, Mozart, Schubert, Debussy and Bach.
He was also greatly esteemed by his colleagues. He was a frequent chamber-music partner of the cellist Pablo Casals. He first performed with Arturo Toscanini in 1906 and continued appearing with him until 1953. When he was seeking an American foothold at the start of World War II, Rudolf Serkin invited him to join the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Throughout his career, he gave recitals with the violinists Joseph Szigeti and Alexander Schneider, the cellist Janos Starker and the tenor Askel Schiotz. And he outlived them all, winning a place in the musical record books for the span of his career.
In 1899 he began his formal studies with Theodor Leschetizky, a legendary virtuoso whose students included Ignace Paderewski, Artur Schnabel, Benno Moiseiwitsch, Ignaz Friedman and other great pianists who flourished in the first half of the 20th century. By 1903 Mr. Horszowski, then 11, was touring Europe and making an impression on some of the great musicians of the day. Around this time he became friendly with Casals, Rubinstein and the violinist Jacques Thibaud, and he performed for the composers Ravel and Fauré.
At the start of World War II, Mr. Horszowski came to the United States by way of Brazil. He eventually settled in Philadelphia, where he joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute. Among his more distinguished students were Seymour Lipkin, Anton Kuerti, Peter Serkin, Murray Perahia and Richard Goode.
Mr. Horszowski performed widely from the 1940s on, and he undertook a few marathon projects. In the 1954-55 season, for example, he played all of Beethoven's solo piano works in 12 recitals. In 1960 he played all the Mozart sonatas in four concerts.
From the 1940s through the early 1970s, Mr. Horszowski collaborated with other musicians nearly as much as he performed as a soloist. He was a regular visitor to the Casals festivals in the village of Prades, France, and in San Juan, P.R., and he performed with Casals at the United Nations in 1958 and in a televised concert at the White House in 1961. His collaborative performances were often as impressive as his solo recitals. When he accompanied the Polish bass Doda Conrad in Schubert's WINTERREISE in 1942, for example, he played the lengthy, detailed cycle from memory.
Listening to even his very last recordings, one would not have had the impression that he was ever unsure about anything. Among his finest recordings are a set devoted to the first book of Bach's ‘Well-Tempered Clavier’ released by Vanguard in 1981, and a series of mixed recitals recorded by Nonesuch in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In recording the Nonesuch series, and in presenting his final recitals, Mr. Horszowski rarely provided a program in advance, but instead played the works that moved him at the moment. The result was the kind of pure, unforced musical expression that gave the impression that the music was being improvised on the spot.”
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 24 May, 1993
"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