Soloist & Partner / Rudolf Firkusny

Release Date: 7/24/2020
Label: Profil
Catalog Number: PH19013
Conductor: William Steinberg
Orchestra/Ensemble: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 10

Physical Format:

CD
In Stock
$41.99
Notes and Editorial Reviews

“You don’t need a teacher; what you need is an audience.” Those were the words of the great pianist and teacher Alfred Cortot, after the young Rudolf Firkušný had auditioned for him in Paris. Born in southern Moravia in 1912, Firkušný and his mother moved to Brünn after the death of his father. The boy’s musical ability was already in evidence at the domestic piano, where he enthusiastically played by ear tunes that he had heard. A friend of the family accordingly recommended him to the local conservatory, whose teachers included Leoš Janácek. Firkušný’s relationship to Janácek and his works would do much to shape his international career. Janácek concentrated principally on music theory and composition. His career as a concert pianist began in London in 1933 and he was soon playing in the great centres of music across Europe. He travelled to New York in 1938 and went on to tour North and South America. The German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939 prompted him to take refuge in Paris, from where he travelled to the USA by way of Portugal in 1940. The persecution and expulsion of Jews from large parts of Europe resulted in a tremendous enrichment of American cultural life by Jewish émigrés. Under the direction of Erich Leinsdorf, the Metropolitan Opera soon assembled a Wagner ensemble of world-class singers; conductors like William Steinberg and George Szell placed their stamp upon orchestras with new repertoire, and the concert halls opened their doors to European soloists. A celebrated concert of 1941 in New York’s Town Hall gave Rudolf Firkušný his own opening to a successful career in the New World. This was further enhanced by his grand tour of South America in 1943 and showed no sign of abating when he returned to his native Czechoslovakia after the end of the war.



REVIEW:



Really special are the violin sonatas op. 120 Nos. 1 & 2 in the version for viola and piano, with violist William Primrose clearly dominating the interpretations. The various piano pieces are technically excellent. A highlight is the very sensitively played sonata by César Franck with the Vienna-born violinist Erica Morini, an artist who formed an ideal duo with Firkusny. Their performances of the Beethoven sonatas in this collection are excellent too. This box also contains only one of Beethoven’s concertos, the Fifth, in a grandiose, energetic and lean interpretation. Firkusny (1912-1994) plays brilliantly and with the greatest precision. But the superiority of the performance is ultimately due to the perfect collaboration between Firkusny and the conductor William Steinberg, who allows the Pittsburgh Symphony to play just as transparently and precisely with a springy, slender sound. Firkusny plays the Piano Sonatas No. 8 (Pathétique), 14 (Moonlight), 21 (Waldstein) with the greatest clarity and attention to detail, with little pedal, and it is certainly not bad to hear these works sometimes so objectively and yet excitingly. Profil’s collection also includes more or less inspired solo recordings of works by Schumann, Schubert, Mozart and Debussy, a very good Piano Sonata in B minor by Chopin, rich in details and sensitively played, as well as Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition played with bravura.

Really special are the violin sonatas op. 120 Nos. 1 & 2 in the version for viola and piano, with violist William Primrose clearly dominating the interpretations. The various piano pieces are technically excellent.

Another highlight is the very sensitively played sonata by César Franck with the Vienna-born violinist Erica Morini, an artist who formed an ideal duo with Firkusny. Their performances of the Beethoven sonatas in this collection are excellent too.

Firkusny's playing in the Beethoven Fifth is brilliant, exhibiting the greatest precision. But the superiority of the performance is ultimately due to the perfect collaboration between Firkusny and the conductor William Steinberg, who allows the Pittsburgh Symphony to play just as transparently and precisely with a springy, slender sound.

Firkusny plays the Piano Sonatas No. 8 (Pathétique), 14 (Moonlight), 21 (Waldstein) with the greatest clarity and attention to detail, with little pedal, and it is certainly not bad to hear these works sometimes so objectively and yet excitingly.

Profil’s collection also includes more or less inspired solo recordings of works by Schumann, Schubert, Mozart and Debussy, a very good Piano Sonata in B minor by Chopin, rich in details and sensitively played, as well as Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition played with bravura.



– Pizzicato (Remy Franck)

Works on This Recording
1. Concerto for Piano no 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Conductor: William Steinberg
Orchestra/Ensemble: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical
Written: 1809 ; Vienna, Austria
2. Concerto for Piano no 1 in D minor, Op. 15 by Johannes Brahms
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1854-1858 ; Germany
3. Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major, M 8 by César Franck
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano), Erica Morini (Violin)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1886 ; France
4. Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major, M 8 by César Franck
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano), Erica Morini (Violin)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1886 ; France
5. Sonata for Piano no 8 in C minor, Op. 13 "Pathétique" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Classical
Written: 1797-1798 ; Vienna, Austria
6. Sonata for Piano no 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 no 2 "Moonlight" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Classical
Written: 1801 ; Vienna, Austria
7. Sonata for Piano no 21 in C major, Op. 53 "Waldstein" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Classical
Written: 1803-1804 ; Vienna, Austria
8. Concerto for Piano in G minor, Op. 33/B 63 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1876 ; Bohemia
9. Sonata 1.X.1905 "From the street" by Leos Janácek
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1905 ; Brno, Czech Republic
10. Concerto for Piano no 4 "Incantations" by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Written: 1955-6 ;
11. Pictures at an Exhibition for Piano by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1874 ; Russia
12. On the overgrown path, Book 1 by Leos Janácek
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1901-1908 ; Brno, Czech Republic
13. In the mists by Leos Janácek
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1912 ; Czech Republic
14. Sonata 1.X.1905 "From the street" by Leos Janácek
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1905 ; Brno, Czech Republic
15. Children's Corner: no 5, The Little Shepherd by Claude Debussy
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1906-1908 ; France
16. Children's Corner: no 6, Golliwogg's Cake-walk by Claude Debussy
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1906-1908 ; France
17. Impromptus (4) for Piano, D 899/Op. 90 by Franz Schubert
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1827 ; Vienna, Austria
18. Sonata for Piano no 3 in B minor, B 155/Op. 58 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1844 ; Paris, France
19. Phantasie for Piano in C major, Op. 17 by Robert Schumann
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1836-1838 ; Germany
20. Fantasy for Piano in C minor, K 475 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Classical
Written: 1785 ; Vienna, Austria
21. Fantasia for Piano in C minor, K 396 (385f) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Classical
Written: 1782 ; Vienna, Austria
22. Suite bergamasque by Claude Debussy
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1890/1905 ; France
23. Estampes (3) for Piano by Claude Debussy
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1903 ; France
24. Children's Corner: no 2, Jimbo's Lullaby by Claude Debussy
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1906-1908 ; France
25. Children's Corner: no 3, Serenade for the Doll by Claude Debussy
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1906-1908 ; France
26. Children's Corner: no 4, The Snow is Dancing by Claude Debussy
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1906-1908 ; France
27. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 7 in C minor, Op. 30 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Classical
Written: 1801-1802 ; Vienna, Austria
28. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 7 in C minor, Op. 30 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Classical
Written: 1801-1802 ; Vienna, Austria
29. Impromptus (4) for Piano, D 935/Op. 142 by Franz Schubert
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1827 ; Vienna, Austria
30. Sonata for Violin and Piano in E flat major, K 481 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Classical
Written: 1785 ; Vienna, Austria
31. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 5 in F major, Op. 24 "Spring" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Classical
Written: 1800-1801 ; Vienna, Austria
32. Sonata for Piano no 14 in C minor, K 457 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Classical
Written: 1784 ; Vienna, Austria
33. Kinderszenen, Op. 15: no 7, Träumerei by Robert Schumann
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1838 ; Germany
34. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 10 in G major, Op. 96 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Classical
Written: 1812 ; Vienna, Austria
35. Intermezzi (3) for Piano, Op. 117: no 2 in B flat minor by Johannes Brahms
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1892 ; Austria
36. Pieces (6) for Piano, Op. 118: no 6, Intermezzo in E flat minor by Johannes Brahms
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1892 ; Austria
37. Pieces (4) for Piano, Op. 119 by Johannes Brahms
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1892 ; Austria
38. Pieces (8) for Piano, Op. 76: no 3, Intermezzo in A flat major by Johannes Brahms
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1878 ; Austria
39. Fantasies (7) for Piano, Op. 116: no 1, Capriccio in D minor by Johannes Brahms
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1892 ; Austria
40. Rhapsodies (2) for Piano, Op. 79: no 2 in G minor by Johannes Brahms
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1879 ; Austria
41. Sonata for Clarinet/Viola and Piano no 1 in F minor, Op. 120 no 1 by Johannes Brahms
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano), William Primrose (Viola)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1894 ; Germany
42. Sonata for Clarinet/Viola and Piano no 2 in E flat major, Op. 120 no 2 by Johannes Brahms
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano), William Primrose (Viola)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1894 ; Germany
43. Sonata for Clarinet/Viola and Piano no 2 in E flat major, Op. 120 no 2 by Johannes Brahms
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano), William Primrose (Viola)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1894 ; Germany
44. Pieces (8) for Piano, Op. 76: no 1, Capriccio in F sharp minor by Johannes Brahms
Performer: Rudolf Firkusny (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1878 ; Austria
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