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Alfred Cortot: The Late Recordings, Vol. 4

Release Date: 02/08/2011 
Label:  Apr (Appian) Catalog #: 5574   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz SchubertFranz LisztRobert SchumannFrédéric Chopin
Performer:  Alfred Cortot
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Much to excite the poetic instinct.

In their different ways APR and Naxos have been covering something of the same territory in Cortot studies – not that they are alone, as EMI has recently issued capacious boxes devoted to the pianist and Toshiaba and Shinseido amongst Japanese companies have also been busy. But APR has been working structurally through the recorded legacy and now reaches volume 4 of his ‘late recordings’.

This means four composers are represented. Cortot often reprised works in the studio, sometimes multiply so. Both the Ländler and Litanie, for instance, were recorded in London in 1937 and are presented by Naxos [8.112012] and in truth these are artistically superior to these
Read more early 50s remakes, fine and enjoyable though they are on their own terms, and despite the noble gravity of Litanie, heard once again in Cortot’s own arrangement. We have a bracing May 1953 Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No.11. Of rather more significance is the recording he made at the same time, of Carnaval. Cortot set down this work three times - 1923, 1928 and, here, once again, 1953, mirroring the three recordings he left of the Piano Concerto. This last recording is a noble study but vitiated by wrong notes to such an extent that it does intrude; approximations in the Marche des Davidsbündler are the order of the day, not the exception. But if you can listen through these well-worn Cortotisms you will still find much to excite the poetic instinct, albeit the early electric of 1928 is the place to go for a more comprehensive account of his way with the work.

APR groups the works into composer sequences; therefore we are not presented with a chronological run of recordings. Thus it is that we can hear the Chopin recordings of, in the main, June and July 1954 – the exception is the slow movement of the B flat minor sonata, recorded on the same day as Carnaval. Single movements from the sonatas were released, and various pieces were attempted by Cortot, by now beginning to suffer from Parkinson’s Disease, and not completed. The Etudes evince something of his youthful brio and the Tarantelle in A flat major is attractively dispatched.

Documentation is good and the transfers too, though I marginally prefer the competing Naxos Carnaval.

-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Moments musicaux (6) for Piano, D 780/Op. 94: no 3 in F minor by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Alfred Cortot (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823-1828; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1954 
German Dances (12) for Piano, D 790/Op. 171 by Franz Schubert
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1951 
Litanei auf das Fest Aller Seelen, D 343 by Franz Schubert
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1953 
Notes: Arrangement: Alfred Cortot 
Hungarian Rhapsodies (19) for Piano, S 244: no 11 in A minor by Franz Liszt
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846-1847; Weimar, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1953 
Carnaval, Op. 9 by Robert Schumann
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1953 
Nocturnes (3) for Piano, Op. 15: no 2 in F sharp major by Frédéric Chopin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830-1831; Poland 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Etudes (12) for Piano, Op. 25: no 9 in G flat major by Frédéric Chopin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1832-1834; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Etudes (12) for Piano, Op. 25: no 2 in F minor by Frédéric Chopin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Etudes (12) for Piano, Op. 10: no 5 in G flat major "Black Keys" by Frédéric Chopin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830; Poland 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Sonata for Piano no 3 in B minor, B 155/Op. 58: 3rd movement, Largo by Frédéric Chopin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Sonata for Piano no 2 in B flat minor, B 128/Op. 35 "Funeral March": 3rd movement, Marche funébre by Frédéric Chopin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837-1839; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 1953 
Tarantella for Piano in A flat major, B 139/Op. 43 by Frédéric Chopin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Waltzes (3) for Piano, B 164/Op. 64: no 2 in C sharp minor by Frédéric Chopin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846-1847; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 1954 

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