Gina Bachauer’s First HMV Recordings: BACH, LISZT, MOZART (APR)

by | Jun 2, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Gina Bachauer: The First HMV Recordings 1949-1951=BACH: Toccata,
Adagio and Fugue, BWV 564 (arr. BUSONI); LISZT: Funerailles; Hungarian
Rhapsody No. 12 in C# Minor; Rapsodie espagnole (arr. BUSONI); MOZART:
Piano Concerto no. 26 in D Major, K. 537 “Coronation”

Alec Sherman conducts New London Orchestra
APR 5643  76:59  (Distrib. Harmonia Mundi)****:

I met the great Greek pianist Gina Bachauer (1910-1976) in Syracuse,
New York, after she had performed the Brahms B-flat Concerto with
Christopher Keene. Regal in every sense, Bachauer had extended a long
arm and a gracious hand to the solo cellist from the third movement,
while she accepted the rousing applause from an enthralled audience.
Often perceived as the Horowitz among the female keyboard virtuosos,
Bachuer came to the recording studio relatively late in her career: she
was 29 when she set down Funerailles for posterity on 9 April 1949.

Her Bach Toocata, Adagio and Fugue is that same piece Horowitz himself
chose for his Historic Return recital. When I came to collect LPs of
her work, I did own the fairly elusive RCA LM 9001 incarnation of her
Liszt Spanish Rhapsody and Mozart D Major Concerto with her husband
Alec Sherman. I also owned LHMV 31, which contained her suave Gaspard
de la Nuit. With Sherman, again, there were more Mozart concertos and
the Bach F Minor on the Capitol label. Her Tchaikovsky Concerto (LM
1890) did not glean the kind of kudos the fluency of the performance
demanded. “Alec was a very generous man,” proffered Bachauer. “We knew
that both of us could not maintain virtuoso ambitions and keep our
marriage alive. So he demurred on his career so I could tour on the
scale that I kept for many years.”

A pianist of girth and serene polish, Bachauer could claim among her
influences Cortot, Rachmaninov, Mitropoulos, and the actress Katina
Paxinou. The Liszt Funerailles has a long, broad line, in spite of a
cut of over 30 bars. Its homage to Chopin, along with its own demands
for bravura double octaves, has the requisite valedictory note. The
Rapsody espagnole enjoys a real dash of flying colors, with its
variations on La Folia and the usual Lisztian pomp and magisterial ego.
The Hungarian Rhapsody, which Bachauer would again record for Mercury,
has a lithe finesse that rivals the fioritura Levitzky and Barere could
coax from the fiery, mercurial piece. Finally, the Mozart D Major
Concerto, which Landowska had made much of, finds a restrained, loving
collaboration here under Bachauer – who unfortunately did not inscribe
Mozart’s piano sonatas, a curious omission she shares with another
great Mozart acolyte, Clifford Curzon.

–Gary Lemco

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