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Leonard Pennario - The Early Years 1950-1958


Release Date: 11/26/2006 
Label:  Msr   Catalog #: 1188   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Frédéric ChopinRobert SchumannFranz LisztCésar Franck,   ... 
Performer:  Leonard Pennario
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 5 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MSR Classics presents a generous four-disc overview of popular American pianist Leonard Pennario's 1950-1958 recordings for the Capitol label. Newly transferred from the original session tapes, most of this material (I believe) appears for the first time on CD. Sonic and artistic quality markedly varies between selections. A dry, dynamically constricted ambience and dead-sounding instrument reinforce the pianist's percussive and glib conceptions of Schumann's C major Fantasy, Liszt's B minor Sonata, and the Chopin Waltzes. The latter's B-flat minor Sonata stands out in the Scherzo for Pennario's rhythmic verve and secure marksmanship in the difficult leaps.

Yet even in an airless studio you can infer Pennario's sense of long
Read more line and sensitively shaded soft playing in the Franck Prelude, Chorale and Fugue. In Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition the piano resembles a hybrid barroom upright and harpsichord, with its volume control stuck on mezzo-anything. Still, Pennario delivers a serious, concentrated, fastidiously prepared, and intelligently paced interpretation. The booklet purports this to be the first recording of the uncut text.

Fortunately, a more resonant and congenial pickup is in place for the first complete recording of Prokofiev's Visions Fugitives. Despite more than a few moments of rushing (No. 5, for example), Pennario taps into the music's lyrical beauties that sometimes elude other pianists, such as in No. 6's subdued elegance and No. 12's carefully delineated textures.

Dry yet energetic, sparkling readings of sonatas by Bartók and Rózsa further reveal Pennario's affinity for the music of his time. For surface sheen and suave fingerwork alone, Ravel's Miroirs, Gaspard de la nuit, and the recorded premiere of La Valse in its piano version command respect, although other mono-era Ravel traversals (i.e. Casadesus, Perlemuter, and Meyer) boast greater artistic finesse and tonal magic. Two of the pianist's compositions round out the collection: his signature encore Midnight on the Cliffs, and an ambitious variation set based on the Kerry Dancers.

To whatever degree Pennario's early recordings stand the test of time, piano enthusiasts with long memories surely will welcome the opportunity to access them again. MSR's booklet contains an excellent biographical overview, full discographical documentation, and photos of the original LP jackets.

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

1.
Sonata for Piano no 2 in B flat minor, B 128/Op. 35 "Funeral March" by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837-1839; Paris, France 
Notes: 1950 - 1958 
2.
Waltzes (3) for Piano, Op. 34 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831-1838 
Notes: 1950 - 1958 
3.
Waltzes (3) for Piano, B 164/Op. 64 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846-1847; Paris, France 
Notes: 1950 - 1958 
4.
Waltzes (2) for Piano, Op. 69 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829-1835 
Notes: 1950 - 1958 
5.
Waltzes (3) for Piano, Op. 70 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829-1841 
Notes: 1950 - 1958 
6.
Polonaise for Piano in A flat major, B 147/Op. 53 "Heroic" by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Paris, France 
Notes: 1950 - 1958 
7.
Phantasie for Piano in C major, Op. 17 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836-1838; Germany 
Notes: 1950 - 1958 
8.
Sonata for Piano in B minor, S 178 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1852-1853; Weimar, Germany 
Notes: 1950 - 1958 
9.
Prelude, Chorale and Fugue for Piano, M 21 by César Franck
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; France 
Notes: 1950 - 1958 
10.
Pictures at an Exhibition for Piano by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Russia 
11.
Visions fugitives (20) for Piano, Op. 22 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915-1917; Russia 
Notes: 1950 - 1958
Composition written: Russia (1915 - 1917). 
12.
Sonata for Piano, Sz 80 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; Budapest, Hungary 
Notes: 1950 - 1958 
13.
Sonata for Piano, Op. 20 by Miklós Rózsa
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; USA 
Notes: 1950 - 1958 
14.
Miroirs by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904-1905; France 
Notes: 1950 - 1958 
15.
Gaspard de la nuit by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908; France 
Notes: 1950 - 1958 
16.
La valse by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; France 
Notes: 1950 - 1958 
17.
La plus que lente by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; France 
Notes: 1950 - 1958 
18.
Midnight on the Cliffs by Leonard Pennario
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956; USA 
Date of Recording: 1942 
19.
Variations for Piano on "The Kerry Dancers" by Leonard Pennario
Performer:  Leonard Pennario (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 
Date of Recording: 1942 

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