Nadia Reisenberg Carnegie Hall Recital, 1947 = HANDEL: Suite No. 9; MOZART: Sonata in A Minor; WEBER: Rondo Brilliante; CHOPIN: Sonata No. 3; BARBER: Four Excursions; Works of SCRIABIN, STRAVINSKY, PROKOFIEV, KHACHATURIAN, TCHAIKOVSKY – Bridge (2)

by | Dec 25, 2009 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Nadia Reisenberg Carnegie Hall Recital, 1947 = HANDEL: Suite No. 9 in G Minor; MOZART: Sonata in A Minor, K. 310; WEBER: Rondo Brilliante in E-flat Major, Op. 62; CHOPIN: Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58; BARBER: Four Excursions, Op. 20; SCRIABIN: 6 Etudes; STRAVINSKY: Etude in F-sharp Major, Op. 7, No. 4; PROKOFIEV: Etude in D Minor, OP. 2, No. 1; CHOPIN: Nocturne in C-sharp Minor, Op. Posth.; KHACHATURIAN: Toccata; TCHAIKOVSKY: In the Village – Nadia Reisenberg, piano

Bridge 9304 A/B (2 CDs) 54:19; 40:22 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

Having already auditioned the Chopin Piano Sonata No. 3 in B Minor from the recital of 21 November 1947 with Nadia Reisenberg (1904-1983) in a prior review (27 January 2009) devoted to an all-Chopin set from Bridge, I could devote myself to the fascinating, entirely catholic taste of this extraordinary pianist, who always sought out new scores and novel modes of expression.

Reisenberg opens with a polished infectious rendition of the G Minor Suite, the grace notes and embellishments thoroughly integrated into the singing line. If the Allemande communicates lithe and noble grandeur, the Courante permits us a glimpse of the fleet lyricism Reisenberg could educe from Handel’s alternately diatonic and chromatic lines, the extended line vocal without sag. The muscular Gigue that concludes the suite bounces and curls, the plastic lines articulated with nice discernment. The old Rachmaninov admonition of moving to the musical “point” evidences itself in every bar.

The Mozart A Minor Sonata (1778), true to its tragic affect, receives a determined, even fierce reading from Reisenberg, refined but demure rather than charming in any “rococo” sense. An urgent resolve marks this literalist performance of Mozart’s most tragic sonata, in which even the lighter, often brisk, filigree moves us to a relentless fate. The plaintive, nuanced Andante cantabile possesses that apocryphal character, that it laments the passing of Mozart’s dear mother. A noted Mozartean, Reisenberg performed the entire Mozart concerto repertory with Alfred Wallenstein. The last movement of the sonata, Presto, communicates little mirth but rather a relentless verve that leaves disquietly moved.

The Rondo Brilliante by Weber supplies the comic relief in this half of the concert, a wizardly romp in flying octaves and skittering runs, articulated in bold sonorities by Reisenberg. The Chopin B Minor Sonata, a deeply felt and powerfully idiosyncratic performance, needs no further elucidation by me: the rendition, for its many personal tugs at tempo and inner voices–especially in the last movement–holds up for posterity as a major addition to the Chopin experience.

Barber’s Four Excursions (1942-1944) represent his experiment in purely American idioms, musical regionalism in the manner of Siegmeister’s Western Suite and Thomson’s The Louisiana Story. Reisenberg plays the Un poco Allegro with aggressive vigor, the five-part boogie-woogie asking her to deal out an obstinate first on C then on F, C Major competitively syncopated against C Minor. The “In Slow Blues Tempo” moves in 12-bar phrases in modal harmony, avoiding the sharps that would settle the key in G Major. Sultry and elusive, the music gravitates enharmonically to C Major, but its instability, its slow and haunted restlessness, gives us “the blues.” While the Allegretto may derive from “Streets of Laredo,” the seven variants and coda take us afield, into G-flat and D-flat, where Reisenberg roams briefly in measureless abandon. The Allegro molto plays as a parody barn-dance, rife with wild fiddles and harmonicas. Reisenberg jabs at the chords and the tremolos with flashy impishness, much like Walter Huston’s devil in The Devil and Daniel Webster.

The set of etudes by Scriabin opens with the sensuous F-sharp Minor, Op. 42, No. 4, erotically syncopated. Even more tempestuous is the C-sharp Minor Etude, Op. 42, No. 5, rocking and lunging its way to blue fire. The Etude in F Minor, Op. 42, No. 7 exudes an air of dire mystery; Chopin, to be sure, but anxious. The early D-flat Major, Op. 8, No. 10 derives from Chopin’s Op. 25, but with broader, more dissonant color spectra. Its wisp of an ending draws applause. The B-flat Minor, Op. 8, No. 11, like Chopin’s B Minor Prelude, wants to be a chromatic nocturne, a recollection of passions past.  The tempestuous Op. 8, No. 12 in D-sharp Minor Reisenberg takes at blazed speed, the resulting fires surging like a some Dantesque vision, with hurtling, tremolando scales. The audience explodes long before the last chord dies away.

Stravinsky Etude in F-sharp Major, a wild moto perpetuo, found favor with Benno Moiseiwitsch as well as Reisenberg, who plays it for its sheer mesmeric motor energies. Prokofiev’s D Minor Etude, a percussive battleground in syncopes, concludes the recital proper, Reisenberg executing its knots as if it were a dazzling competition piece.

Cheers elicit encores, and so Reisenberg opens with Chopin’s C-sharp Minor Nocturne, which both voluptuously anticipates the F Minor Concerto and finds pride of place in Polanski’s film The Pianist. Listen to the stunning segue Reisenberg makes to the da capo. Khachaturian’s Toccata, a powerhouse wrist  study, seems to combine Armenian percussive power with a bit of Gershwin’s swing, suddenly evoking liquid motion and cascades. The last piece eschews bravura and opts for song: Tchaikovsky’s tender In the Village evokes the charm of rural life, a gentle hymn or folk paean that breaks out in festive colors, as Reisenberg offers it.

–Gary Lemco

 

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