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Annie Fischer - The Centennial Collection

Mozart / Beethoven / Schubert / Liszt
Release Date: 05/27/2014 
Label:  Hungaroton   Catalog #: 41011   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz SchubertLudwig van BeethovenWolfgang Amadeus MozartFranz Liszt
Performer:  Annie Fischer
Conductor:  Heribert EsserErvin Lukács
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



ANNIE FISCHER: The Centennial Collection Annie Fischer (pn); Ervin Lukács 1 , Heribert Esser 2 , cond; Budapest SO 3 HUNGAROTON 31492-94, mono and stereo (3 CDs: 192:31)


MOZART 1,3 Piano Concertos Nos. 20 and 21. Rondo in D. Fantasy and Fugue in c. BEETHOVEN Read more class="SUPER12">2,3 Piano Concerto No. 3. SCHUBERT Impromptu in f. Sonata in B?, D 960. LISZT Piano Sonata in b


It’s coincidence, but when I really got into Annie Fischer about six years ago, in addition to acquiring all her Beethoven sonata recordings, I went to YouTube and listened to a lot of her performances, and the ones that impressed me most were much the same repertoire as on this set. I found these same performances of the Liszt Sonata and the Schubert Impromptu, but not these Mozart concertos. I found, rather, the EMI recording of Mozart Concerto No. 22, and instead of the Beethoven Third I found a great version of the same composer’s “Emperor” Concerto (a real TV concert, and not just sound!) conducted by Péter Mura, and the “Waldstein” Sonata (1954 mono version) in addition to Bartók’s 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, so Hungaroton’s idea of what constitutes Fischer’s ideal repertoire and mine are very, very close.


Of course, the difference here is the impeccable sound quality. Everything here is cleaned up beautifully and sounds pristine. My general impression of Fischer is that she represented the ideal balance between a scrupulous musician who tried to follow the score directions and an improvisatory one who enjoyed pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable within the composer’s framework and directions. Nowhere is this more evident than in her complete set of the Beethoven sonatas, which she worked on for about 15 years and which are full of surprising rubato touches and little twists and turns in the music. Absolutely nothing in that set sounds “wrong,” yet it all sounds unexpected. Fischer keeps you on the edge of your seat as she digs into the music, finding things in these sonatas that no one I’ve ever heard has found.


The same is true, more or less, of this set. Her 1965 Mozart style, with the slightly slower but more dramatically accented conducting of Ervin Lukács, is more dynamic and full of surprises than her late 1950s recordings of Mozart concertos 20–23 with Wolfgang Sawallisch and Adrian Boult. This is Mozart on the verge of being Beethoven, an approach I’ve only heard out of Nadia Reisenberg and a very few others. The historically informed crowd can pass this up, but I sure wouldn’t. Fischer apparently favored the cadenzas by Beethoven, Hummel, and Busoni that sound anachronistic nowadays, but I love it. Fischer builds up more real tension in the opening movement of Concerto No. 21 than I’ve ever heard anyone do anywhere. (If you go to YouTube and watch Fischer play the Beethoven “Emperor” or the Schumann Concerto, one thing you cannot escape is her incredible power at the keyboard. Despite being a small, thin woman, she attacked that keyboard like a hungry lion devouring its prey.)


This particular performance of the Beethoven Third Concerto is similar to her performances of the sonatas in that she tends towards slightly slower tempos in order to accent and articulate the music dramatically, but in this case she keeps a steadier tempo within the framework of each movement. Perhaps this was at the insistence of the conductor; I can’t say that I am at all familiar with Heribert Esser’s work, and Fischer did not always insist on her own approach to concertos when working with different conductors. It is an effective performance, then, if a bit less strong in its musical profile than one might have expected. By contrast, her playing of the Mozart Fantasy and Fugue is quite dynamic, as is her version of the Schubert Impromptu. The Schubert Sonata is played in a style entirely different from anyone else’s; Fischer emphasizes the rhythmic element over the melodic, and the end result is a performance that “binds” the music together in a much more dynamic way than the performances of Schnabel, Haskil, or even Craig Sheppard. For those who haven’t heard it, her 1953 recording of the Liszt Sonata—here restored to crystal-clear sound that belies its age—is a classic of the genre, possibly the finest version ever put on disc.


In addition to this set, I also recommend the three-disc set—one CD and two DVDs—on Doremi 7933, which includes performances of the Beethoven First, Third, and Fifth concertos conducted by Antal Doráti (the Third) and Péter Mura, Handel’s Chaconne and Variations, Mendelssohn’s Rondo capriccioso, the Chopin and Liszt concertos No. 1 with Mura, Mozart concertos Nos. 22 (with Mura) and 24 (with Marc Andreae), and the Schumann Concerto with Woldemar Nelsson. Annie Fischer was one of the eight or 10 greatest pianists of the 20th century, and you owe it to yourself to own as many of her recordings as you can.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

1.
Impromptus (4) for piano, D. 935 (Op. posth. 142): No 1 in F minor by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Annie Fischer (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 12/1827; Austria 
Date of Recording: 1968 
Length: 9 Minutes 26 Secs. 
2.
Concerto for Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 37 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Annie Fischer (Piano)
Conductor:  Heribert Esser
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1966 
Length: 35 Minutes 7 Secs. 
3.
Prelude and Fugue for Piano in C major, K 394 (383a) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Annie Fischer (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1782; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1965 
Length: 8 Minutes 28 Secs. 
4.
Concerto for Piano no 20 in D minor, K 466 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Annie Fischer (Piano)
Conductor:  Ervin Lukács
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1965 
5.
Concerto for Piano no 21 in C major, K 467 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Annie Fischer (Piano)
Conductor:  Ervin Lukács
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1965 
6.
Rondo for Piano and Orchestra in D major, K 382 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Annie Fischer (Piano)
Conductor:  Ervin Lukács
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1782; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1965 
7.
Sonata for Piano in B flat major, D 960 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Annie Fischer (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1968 
8.
Sonata for Piano in B minor, S 178 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Annie Fischer (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1852-1853; Weimar, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1953 

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