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Arthur Schnabel Plays Mozart


Release Date: 02/13/2007 
Label:  Music & Arts Programs Of America Catalog #: 1193   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur SchnabelKarl Ulrich SchnabelAlphonse OnnouRobert Mass,   ... 
Conductor:  Bruno WalterSir Adrian BoultSir John BarbirolliWalter Susskind,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonic Symphony OrchestraLondon Symphony OrchestraPro Arte String Quartet members,   ... 
Number of Discs: 5 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 6 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MOZART Piano Concertos: No. 17 in G: Excerpts; 1,9,13 No. 19 in F; No. 20 in d; 1,6,12 No. 21 in C; 1,7,11 No. 23 in A; 1,8,10 No. 24 in c; 1,6,12 No. 27 in B?. 1,5,11 Two-Piano Concerto in E?. 1,4,11 Piano Quartet No. 1 in Read more g. 1,2 Piano Sonatas: No. 8 in a; No. 12 in F; No. 13 in B?; No. 15 in F; No. 16 in B?. Rondo in a Artur Schnabel (pn); 1 Pro Arte Qrt; 2 Bruno Walter, cond; 3 Adrian Boult, cond; 4 John Barbirolli, cond; 5 Walter Susskind, cond; 6 Malcolm Sargent, cond; 7 Artur Rodzinski, cond; 8 Fritz Stiedry, cond; 9 NY P; 10 LSO; 11 Philharmonia O; 12 New Friends of Music O 13 MUSIC & ARTS 1193 (5 CDs: 375:03)


An old Floridian friend of mine and I used to listen to and compare historical releases. He stated authoritatively several times that I was sound and sane on all points, save that I thought Artur Schnabel was a great Mozartean.


I still do, though I’m not about to enter a defense on the grounds of authenticity. Authenticity in performance is like El Dorado or the Alchemical Stone, something desirable that recedes into the infinite distance—though many would tell you the journey is worth the effort. I’m inclined to agree; but I have also heard numerous studio recordings and live performances of “authentic” Mozart at the piano that were so faceless as to completely deny the composer his spirit, however one may argue the letter.


Schnabel’s most significant anachronism in the piano concertos, as I see it, was his penchant for composing cadenzas correctly based on the movement’s content, but often in a style more appropriate to Liszt. However, since Schnabel was anything but a musical naïf, I can only conclude that he saw the cadenza as an improvisation untempered by the need for historical considerations, and providing a counterweight of stylistic perspective to the rest of any given piece. Perhaps it is time that we began regarding these commentaries of his in the same spirit that several critics applauded (or at least winked at) Nigel Kennedy in Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons : an idiosyncrasy of an always arresting and intensely musical performer.


The pianist’s strengths in Mozart can meanwhile be sampled throughout these five well-filled discs. One attribute of his can be heard in the pianist’s answering phrases at the start of the Piano Quartet No. 1—or again, in a very different context, during the first statement of the Piano Concerto No. 27’s finale. It is Schnabel’s ability to shape phrases in a manner that brings out their dramatic viability, the veteran performer who revels in the abrupt shift of detailed emotional masks he assumes. Serious movements aren’t uniformly gray, and comic finales reveal the wit of a quicksilver mind.


Another of his attributes was vigor. Schnabel has been faulted for approaching Mozart at times as though he were Beethoven, but if this arguably is the case, it is more a matter of degree than mistaken concept. No one can deny the robust theatricality in much of the finale to the Piano Concerto No. 24; and if both pianist and conductor went too far in this regard, they yet avoid being too prim in their immediate musical response and too small-scaled in their overall thinking. After the likes of Gieseking or his present day descendants, Schnabel’s energy comes as a welcome tonic.


Modern Mozarteans frequently have poise, but I find many of them just as frequently lacking in depth. Perhaps it’s a fear of being thought anachronistic for showing emotion in pre-Romantic music, but they regularly turn Mozart’s adagios and andantes into allegrettos, avoid cantabile phrasing, and constrict the dynamics of their music-making. By contrast, Schnabel was at his considerable best in slow movements. He neither lingered nor rushed, but seemed to find the ideal tempo and stick to it, while allowing for rhythmic flexibility. He did not make believe that these works were written without knowledge of the singing phrase, not when they came from the pen of a musician who composed around the same time the likes of “Deh vieni non tardar” and “Dalla sua pace.” As for dynamics, you can listen to the way Schnabel employs touch to vary intensity and volume in the andante of the Piano Concerto No. 21. The effect is one of chiaroscuro, in which color plays an important part in defining the attributes of structure.


Technique wasn’t Schnabel’s strong suit by the 1930s. According to his son, he cared little for practicing. But there is some pretty impressive playing exhibited in the finales of the Piano Sonatas K 332 and 570. More important, even when notes are sometimes lost in passagework, there is no loss in control. Schnabel retained command of the other elements in his performance, and successfully conveyed what he believed the music to mean. In the end, I find that preferable to a note-perfect rendition whose sole statement seems to be “tidiness is next to godliness.” Whatever problems of technique or style may arise in Schnabel’s Mozart, it has much to say, and every bit of it is worth listening to.


All of this material has been available before, the live content back to LP days, the commercial material as far back as 78s. The sound is variable. The sonatas and rondo were recorded too far away from the microphone, perhaps to minimize blasting, but with a colorless result that no measure of audio wizardry can alter. The commercial concertos are far better in this respect, with a generally good balance between piano and orchestra, both close to the microphone. The live performances are usually muddier, but still quite listenable, though the Piano Sonata in F Major, K 533/494, is extremely cloudy; while the 11-minute excerpt from the Piano Concerto No. 17 is very clearly recorded but subject to noisy acetate surfaces. Nearly all of the re-mastering was done by Kit Higginson, who was also responsible for the discreet but excellent work on last year’s issue of the Budapest Quartet in Mozart and Schumann (Music & Arts 4643). Ed Wilkinson performed the digital restoration on the Piano Concerto No. 22.


I have only one complaint: the missing lacuna from the finale of the Piano Concerto No. 23. This was a live performance that (in contradiction to Farhan Malik’s otherwise excellent notes) was slightly out of control from the opening bars, with Schnabel more sketchy than usual, and Rodzinski caught momentarily flat-footed. Disaster hits late in the movement, when the pianist’s memory skips forward, and moves out of sync musically with the orchestra. There is a pause; Rodzinski consults with Schnabel; and then everything is magically picked up again as though nothing has happened. The steel-nerved aplomb that Schnabel shows would be worth hearing, and when this was released on Fred Maroth’s old LP label as BWS 717, that’s what we got. Here, editing has been employed to excise the passage, though there are several measures of music unavoidably missing as a result. If Music & Arts was concerned about interrupting our listening pleasure through such an experience, they should have made the lacuna a separate band, rather than removing it entirely.


That aside, this set is well worth the purchase. As if you had any doubts by now about my opinion on the matter.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Piano no 22 in E flat major, K 482 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Conductor:  Bruno Walter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 35 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Notes: Schnabel performs his own cadenzas in this selection.
?11/13/1941 - ?11/16/1941 
2.
Sonata for Piano no 8 in A minor, K 310 (300d) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1778; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 01/27/1939 
Length: 18 Minutes 56 Secs. 
3.
Concerto for 2 Pianos in E flat major, K 365 (316a) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Schnabel (Piano), Karl Ulrich Schnabel (Piano)
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1779; Salzburg, Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/28/1936 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio no 1, London, Engl 
Length: 23 Minutes 56 Secs. 
4.
Quartet for Piano and Strings no 1 in G minor, K 478 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Alphonse Onnou (Violin), Artur Schnabel (Piano), Robert Mass (Cello),
Germain Prévost (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pro Arte String Quartet members
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 12/19/1934 
Length: 30 Minutes 8 Secs. 
5.
Sonata for Piano no 12 in F major, K 332 (300k) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1781-1783; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 14 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Notes: Abbey Road Studio no 3, London, England (06/05/1946); Abbey Road Studio no 3, London, England (06/05/1947) 
6.
Concerto for Piano no 27 in B flat major, K 595 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/02/1934 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio no 1, London, Engl 
Length: 31 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Notes: Schnabel performs Mozart's cadenzas in this selection. 
7.
Concerto for Piano no 20 in D minor, K 466 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Conductor:  Walter Susskind
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio no 1, London, Engl 
Length: 30 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Notes: Schnabel performs Beethoven's cadenzas in this selection.
EMI Abbey Road Studio no 1, London, England (06/17/1948 - 06/18/1948) 
8.
Sonata for Piano no 13 in B flat major, K 333 (315c) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1783-1784; Linz, Austria 
Venue:  Live  Armed Forces Radio 
Length: 19 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Notes: Armed Forces Radio (?1944 - ?1945) 
9.
Concerto for Piano no 19 in F major, K 459 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1784; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 27 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Notes: Schnabel performs Mozart's cadenzas in this selection.
01/09/1937 - 01/12/1937 
10.
Concerto for Piano no 24 in C minor, K 491 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Conductor:  Walter Susskind
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio no 1, London, Engl 
Length: 31 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Notes: Schnabel performs his own cadenzas in this selection.
EMI Abbey Road Studio no 1, London, England (06/18/1948 - 06/19/1948) 
11.
Sonata for Piano no 17 in B flat major, K 570 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1789; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 06/16/1948 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio 3, London, England 
Length: 16 Minutes 42 Secs. 
12.
Concerto for Piano no 23 in A major, K 488 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Conductor:  Artur Rodzinski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 03/03/1946 
Length: 24 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Notes: Schnabel performs Mozart's cadenzas in this selection. 
13.
Concerto for Piano no 21 in C major, K 467 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/12/1937 
Length: 28 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Notes: Schnabel performs his own cadenzas in this selection. 
14.
Rondo for Piano no 3 in A minor, K 511 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 06/04/1946 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio 3, London, England 
Length: 9 Minutes 40 Secs. 
15.
Sonata for Piano no 15 in F major, K 533 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1788; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/14/1943 
Venue:  Live  Frick Museum, New York City, NY 
Length: 21 Minutes 56 Secs. 
16.
Concerto for Piano no 17 in G major, K 453 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Artur Schnabel (Piano)
Conductor:  Fritz Stiedry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Friends of Music Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1784; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 03/22/1942 
Length: 11 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is presented in excerpted form. 

Sound Samples

Piano Concerto No. 22 in E flat major, K. 482: I. Allegro
Piano Concerto No. 22 in E flat major, K. 482: II. Andante
Piano Concerto No. 22 in E flat major, K. 482: III. Rondo: Allegro
Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor, K. 310: I. Allegro maestoso
Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor, K. 310: II. Andante cantabile con espressione
Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor, K. 310: III. Presto
Concerto for 2 Pianos in E flat major, K. 365: I. Allegro
Concerto for 2 Pianos in E flat major, K. 365: II. Andante
Concerto for 2 Pianos in E flat major, K. 365: III. Rondeau: Allegro
Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, K. 478: I. Allegro
Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, K. 478: II. Andante
Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, K. 478: III. Rondo: Allegro moderato
Piano Sonata No. 12 in F major, K. 332: I. Allegro
Piano Sonata No. 12 in F major, K. 332: II. Adagio
Piano Sonata No. 12 in F major, K. 332: III. Allegro assai
Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat major, Op. 17, K. 595: I. Allegro
Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat major, Op. 17, K. 595: II. Larghetto
Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat major, Op. 17, K. 595: III. Allegro

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