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Arthur Balsam - Concerto Album - Mozart, Beethoven, Cpe Bach

Release Date: 06/06/2006 
Label:  Bridge   Catalog #: 9196   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus MozartLudwig van BeethovenJohann Nepomuk HummelCarl Philipp Emmanuel Bach
Performer:  Artur Balsam
Conductor:  Walter GoehrClemens DahindenHenry SwobodaOtto Ackermann,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winterthur Symphony OrchestraConcert Hall Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 2 Hours 21 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Artur Balsam's stellar reputation as a collaborative pianist and chamber music player has been well served via Bridge's series of live Library of Congress archival recordings. To mark Balsam's centenary on February 6, 2006 (he died at 88 in 1994), Bridge now turns to the pianist's concerto recordings made for the Concert Hall label in the early 1950s. Back then, the long-playing record had just taken off, and many small labels sought their fortune by covering lesser-known and off-the-beaten path repertoire that the majors wouldn't touch (a familiar situation today!). Balsam was the right man for Concert Hall's A&R agenda: a quick study (stories about his prodigious sight-reading abilities abound), a solid musician, and most of all, one Read more willing to play from day to day whatever the firm wanted to record.

But don't take this to mean that Balsam plays like Mr. Job, on the gig, nailing the notes and thanks for the check. Far from it. The Mozart Allegro movements boast tremendous vitality and virtuosic flair. In the Hummel A minor Op. 85 concerto, Balsam's subtle accents and rhythmic shadings point up the music's striking anticipations of Chopin's decorative devices (the Rondo finale's main theme, for example). He also zeros in on the remarkable harmonic quirks throughout C.P.E. Bach's D minor concerto.

I believe that Balsam's recording of Beethoven's Violin Concerto piano arrangement was a pioneering effort, although Helen Schnabel's rival edition (recently reissued by Town Hall) came close. Balsam is cooler, more symmetrical, and less dynamically charged than Schnabel, but he certainly displays his chops in the big first-movement cadenza dialogues with the timpani. Orchestral support is longer on enthusiasm than finesse and certainly is not helped by the generally cut-rate engineering (my rating solely reflects Balsam's contributions). It sounds as if the performances were transferred from commercial vinyl pressings, and they probably won't sound better in our lifetime (not that they sounded great a half-century ago). However, Mozart K. 415's second and third movements are pitched nearly a half-step sharp. Bridge provides extensive booklet notes that include a generous essay about Balsam's long career, notes on the music, plus short and sweet conductor bios.

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 8 in C major, K 246 "Lützow" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Balsam (Piano)
Conductor:  Walter Goehr
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winterthur Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1776; Salzburg, Austria 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 61 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Artur Balsam (Piano)
Conductor:  Clemens Dahinden
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winterthur Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
Concerto for Piano no 13 in C major, K 415 (387b) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Balsam (Piano)
Conductor:  Henry Swoboda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concert Hall Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1782-1783; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 85 by Johann Nepomuk Hummel
Performer:  Artur Balsam (Piano)
Conductor:  Otto Ackermann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winterthur Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1816; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
Concerto for Harpsichord in D minor, Wq 22/H 425 by Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach
Performer:  Artur Balsam (Piano)
Conductor:  Victor Desarzens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winterthur Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1746-1747; Germany 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 

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