BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major; MOZART: Concerto in F Major for 3 Pianos and Orchestra – Robert Casadesus, piano/ Robert, Gaby, and Jean Casadesus, pianos/ Orchestra Nat. de France/ Carl Schuricht (Brahms)/ RAI Orchestra/Previtali – Urania

by | Mar 16, 2006 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major; MOZART: Concerto in F Major for 3 Pianos and Orchestra – Robert Casadesus, piano/ Robert, Gaby, and Jean Casadesus, pianos/ Orchestra Nat. de France/ Carl Schuricht (Brahms)/ RAI Orchestra/Fernando Previtali – UraniaSP 4247 mono, 69:15 (Distrib. Qualiton) ****:

Live recordings from the legacy of French piano virtuoso Robert Casadesus (1899-1972), whose son Jean was my teacher at SUNY Binghamton. French Sony has been issuing the Casadessu Edition, which was supposedly to couple a commercial inscription of the Brahms B-flat Concerto and Carl Schuricht (1880-1967) with the Ormandy rendition of D’Indy’s Symphony on a French Mountain Air, but this disc has not materialized. We have, in good but not superlative sonics, the Brahms from a Montreux Festival concert 29 September 1956. The ever-classically poised Casadesus can handle all of Brahms’ demands, the stretches and massive block chords, even though the only other record we have of Casadesus in this music are the violin sonatas with Zino Francescatti. Some collectors own the Casadesus/Mitropoulos collaboration from the New York Philharmonic broadcasts. And still others own the Casadesus/Paray collaboration from Detroit.

Typical of both Casadesus and Schuricht, the music emerges with a hearty, transparent breadth and poise, and with no loss of scale. The D Minor Scherzo proceeds a bit quickly but the carillon of sound has heroic power. No cellist has credit for the lovely Andante part, but the nocturne, with the diaphanous trills and arpeggiations from Casadesus, make us wish he had inscribed something of the Brahms solo keyboard oeuvre and the cello sonatas. Both exterior movements are quick, as was Casadesus’ wont in Mozart, the piano sound a little boxy, but the skittish and demure fancy of the composer proceeds naturally. Quite extraordinary pizzicato and woodwind work from the French orchestra, a lovely sheen despite compressed sound reproduction.  A dancing spirit and glittering filigree bring us to a jubilant conclusion.

The Mozart Three-Piano Concerto derives from a Turin concert (4 April 1956) with the underrated Fernando Previtali, a conductor known for opera performances and some recorded work for the Decca label. I saw him in New York c. 1969 lead a crystalline Mother Goose Suite of Maurice Ravel. While the Mozart Concerto was composed for gifted amateurs, its second movement Adagio has the “first family of the keyboard” making exquisite harmony, with Gaby’s having the melodic line against the two men in her life.  The outer movements are concessions to galanterie – buoyant and monastically sweet. Easy, unmannered grace abounds; even with the distinct tape hiss and acoustic compression, a good time is to be had by all.

— Gary Lemco

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