ROBERT CASADESUS - French Columbia Recordings
Music of Scarlatti, Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Weber, Schumann, Chopin, Chabrier, Fauré, Séverac, Caplet, Casadesus, , Ravel, Debussy, and Witkowski
Robert Casadesus, pianist / various orchestras / conductors
APR 7404 (4 disks) TT: 78:15 / 69:30 / 76:00 / 58:45

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerrto No. 1 in C, Op. 19. Piano Concerto No 3 in C minor, Op. 37. Piano Concerto No 4 in G, Op, 58.
Ania Dorfman (Concerto No. 1). Artur Rubinstein (Concerto No. 3). Rudolf Serkin (Concerto No. 4). Dame Myra Hess (Cncerto No. 3).
NBC Symphony Orchestra / Arturo Toscanini, cond.
PRISTINE CLASSICAL PASC 577 (2 disks) TT: 67:12 / 67:20

Several months ago this site praised a major historic reissue, a Sony set of 65 disks of all Columbia recordings made by famous French/American pianist Robert Casadesus (REVIEW). Now we have another major issue of Casadesus, a four-disk ser that contains his rare French Columbia recordings. These were made from 1928 to 1939. Of particular importance is the never before published performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 26 made March 25/26, 1931 with Walther Straham directing Orchestre des Concerts Straham. Another Mozart Concerto, No. 24, was recorded December 20/21, 1937, with Eugene Bigot and Orcestre Symphonique de Paris. Mozart concertos always figured prominently with Casadesus, and later he recorded many of them mostly with George Szell .He also recorded Mozart’s Concerto for 2 Pianos with his wife, Gaby, and the Concerto for Three Pianos with Gaby and their son, Jean-Claude. The new set begins with 11 sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti. Also there is music of Schumann (Symphonic Etudes / Vogel aus Prophet), Chopin (Ballades / Mazurka, Op. 17 No 4), Beethoven's Sonata No. 26, Schubert's Sonata in A, Op. 120 / Deutsche Tänze, Op. 171. Another Casadesus favorite, Weber's Konzertstücke is included, with Eugéne Bigot leading an unidentified orchestra. Casadesus later would make a recording with George Szell and the Cleveland orchestra, and you also can find live performances directed by Romanus Hubertus and Sir John Barbirolli. Casadesus’s only recordings of the the pianist’s Sonata for Flute and piano with Rene Le Roy recorded June 3, 1935, 1967.A major work here is Mon lac by Georges Martin Witkowski: (1867 – 1943). This is a 22-miinue concert piece for piano and orchestra. There is plenty of opportunity for virtuoso display. Witkowski was a major figure on the French music scene at the turn of the Century. He founded he Lyon Orchestra and conducted new music by Ibert, Roussel and many other composers. He also composed two symphonies and three operas, all forgotten today. This recording was made June 18, 1928. Most of the other works were re-recorded for Columbia, but for collectors surely these early versions are important. Mark Obert-Thorn has remastered these old refordings producing an audio picture that belies their age. This APR set should be in every serious collection, right next to the Sony set.

Arturo Toscanini gave two Beethoven cycles with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. The first, in 1939, featured all nine symphonies. The second took place in 1944 and included Piano Concerto No. 1 with Ania Dorfman (November 12), Concerto No. 3 with Arturt Rubinstein ( October 29), and Concerto No. 4 (Rudolf Serkin November 26). This set also includes another performance of Beethoven Concerto No. 3 with Myra Hess from a concert Nov. 24, 1946. Although not a virtuoso, Dame Hess (1890 - 1965) was a highly respected British pianist known for her solid musicianship in classic repertory. She often collaborated with other major artists in chamber music. During the War she often gave recitals while bombs could be heard in the distance. Her performance of Beethoven's Concerto No. 3 rivals Rubinstein's vivid NBC performance of two years earlier. Also included are opening and closing radio announcements for each concerto. This is a fascinating set for collectors.Andrew Rose's X$R remastering is, as usual, first-rate.

R.E.B. (December 2019)