Rosl Schmid, piano = BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19; WEBER: Konzertstueck in F Minor, Op. 79; R. STRAUSS: Burleske in D Minor – with various German orch. – MeloClassic

Rosl Schmid = BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 19; WEBER: Konzertstueck in F Minor, Op. 79; R. STRAUSS: Burleske in D Minor – Rosl Schmid, p./ Bamberger Symphoniker (R. Strauss)/ Grosses Muenchener Rudfunkorchester (Beethoven)/ Deutsches Philharmoisches Orch. (Weber)/ Joseph Keilberth – MeloClassic MC 1013, 62:57 (2014) [www.meloclassic.com] *****:

A star pupil of Walter Lampe and Robert Teichmueller, Rosl Schmid (1911-1978) had a major career in Germany, particularly in Munich, where one of her own students, Maria Joao Pires, gained much from Schmid’s pedagogy. From the three assembled performances here on MeloClassic, 1943-1958, Schmid possesses a stunning digital arsenal, explosive and thoroughly idiomatic in the repertory she champions. In the company of veteran German conductor Joseph Keilberth (1908-1968), she finds a collaborator of equally enthusiastic, plastic temperament. [Note that the first of these recordings were made under the Nazi regime, if that makes any difference…Ed.]

The program opens with a ringing, vehement reading of the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat (2 August 1943) from Munich, broad, lyrical and rhythmically thrilling. No wonder, Schmid received the Berlin Music Prize in 1937. The sheer velocity of the opening Allegro con brio does not detract from the limpid, witty lyricism the players interject at all points. We then recall that the B-flat Concerto really represents Beethoven’s first “official” exercise in the form, mis-numbered, but a grand execution of his understanding of  the genre he naturally inherited from Mozart but subsequently invested with his personal dynamic. Sensitive to first movement key shifts, – as the dip into D-flat in the midst of F Major – Schmid adjusts her palette accordingly. The wonderful Adagio basks in sustained grand gestures. The rollicking Rondo: Molto Allegro dazzles us with Schmid’s digital sleight-of-hand, the sheer sport of metrically ambiguous intricacy.

The ensuing Weber Konzertstueck (8 January 1945) from Prague generates the same manic energy, easily attributable to a polished reading by Claudio Arrau.  The weirdly assembled sections of the piece somehow converge in an idiosyncratic symmetry; and we can sense from Schmid’s passionate reading the influence this work had on Liszt A Major Concerto. The amalgam of martial and bravura-lyric elements works more than effectively: Schmid and Keilberth immerse us in the joy of Weber’s creating an experimental form, dynamic and at all times fiercely expressive.

The potent icing on the cake, the D Minor Burleske by Richard Strauss (16 April 1958) from the Bavarian Radio at Bamberg, has been shot out of a musical cannon. The explosive volatility of the performance remains at a fever pitch and refuses to relent: not even Rudolf Serkin on steroids comes close to the “dervishness” of this interpretation. The tympanist runs literally amok with his major role in the course of the inflamed gestures. After countless incendiary, runs, gallops, double octaves, chromatic trills and arabesques, the waltz theme suddenly emerges, like a sedate rose in the midst of a maelstrom.

The performances, old as they are, reveal their sonic beauties in the presence of absolute quietude, sonically. The only ingredient we miss remains the insane applause that would have, should have, accompanied these revelatory collaborations.

—Gary Lemco

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