Another in the series of improved CDs of the amazing Rube Goldberg-sort of sophisticated German player-piano mechanism which made possible amazingly accurate piano recordings of great composers and pianists from 1904 thru about 1920. [See our earlier coverage for more details]
The first track this issue is the most recent, cut by pianist Kwast-Hodapp in l920, as the Welte was going out of favor because recording on 78s – thought still not even close to the realism of the Welte – was simpler and more convenient. Tacet has spent a lot of effort in getting the best sound out of the highly restored and tuned “vorsetzer” playing mechanisms, which can be rolled up to any grand piano. The results are different from the entirely computerized approach used in the Telarc series of CDs, but equally as good. I think very few people listening to these recordings would detect that the source is in effect a player piano.
I find most of Reger’s music rather forgettable, but there is an added attraction here of hearing the composer play his own piano works. I found the variations built on the Telemann theme rather ordinary, but No. 5 of the Five Humoresques is a wildly emotional virtuoso piece that could cross swords with Scriabin. The most surprising thing about these transfers is the reduction of the mechanism noise in the Welte playback equipment. There is almost none of the whirring, wheezing and thumping of the equipment heard in previous recordings.
– John Sunier