Notes and Editorial Reviews
The great German pianist Wilhelm Backhaus was born in Leipzig on 26 March 1884, and died at Villach on 5 July 1969.
His early studies were in Leipzig and at Frankfurt (where he was a pupil of the legendary d’Albert) and in the early years of the twentieth century he began a career as a travelling virtuoso. He travelled extensively and carried on performing until almost the very end of his life.
Backhaus was one of the great exponents of the Classical and Romantic repertory and his performances had an integrity that eschewed any unnecessary display and flamboyance; his concern was to give the most direct interpretation of what the composer wishes and the structure and architecture of his chosen repertory was
paramount. Backhaus recorded extensively for Decca throughout the 1950s and 1960s and recorded works by Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Mozart, and Schumann. His complete cycle of Beethoven Sonatas occupied him throughout the 1950s and 1960s and is regarded by many as his greatest achievement, and the cycle is justly recognised as one of the great recorded cycles. It has not been available on CD for some years now and is reissued in response to repeated requests to make it available again.
R E V I E W S:
"As a young man, the German pianist Wilhelm Backhaus was personally acquainted with Brahms and Grieg. Indeed, he was the first to record Grieg's 'Piano Concerto', in a recording career that began in 1907 and lasted more than 60 years.
Listening to performances recorded here over 17 years, what is evident is the knowledge he brings to his playing: even when the listener is brought up short by an absolutely personal use of dynamic or tempo, bearing little relation to Beethoven's markings, it sounds thought-through, even justified.
The sheer quality and idiosyncrasy of the performances, and the constant surprises, make this boxed set a listening pleasure."
- Alexander Bryce, Scotland on Sunday
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