Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Brahms, DallÕAbaco, Haydn, Mozart & Schubert

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COMPOSERS: Bach,Beethoven,Brahms,Dall’Abaco,Handel,Haydn,Mozart & Schubert
LABELS: Andante
ALBUM TITLE: Edwin Fischer
WORKS: Works by Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Brahms, Dall’Abaco, Haydn, Mozart & Schubert
PERFORMER: Edwin Fischer (piano); Edwin Fischer CO, LPO/Lawrence Collingwood
This superbly documented and lavishly presented anthology offers a splendid overview of Edwin Fischer’s genius, confirming what many already knew: that musical worth owes more to inspiration and vision than to technical infallibility. It is easy to make too much of his foibles – his occasional lack of rhythmic security, usually manifested as casual accelerandos, or his finger-slips that are sometimes cited as evidence of a slapdash approach. One can find instances of both here, yet time and again we are reminded of why Fischer was so revered by his contemporaries and pupils, Alfred Brendel chief among them. These four discs take us from Fischer’s first published recording – Handel’s G major Chaconne (1931), played with a miraculous leggiero touch and radiance – through a selection of his famous Bach recordings (his wonderful ‘48’ can be found elsewhere), elegant and heavenly Mozart (including the C minor Concerto, K491, and A major Sonata, K331), an astonishing Beethoven Appassionata and swaggering Brahms F minor Sonata, to his magical recording of Schubert’s Impromptus. Throughout, there is a naturalness and spontaneity to Fischer’s playing that is tremendously self-renewing. While he could convey an imperious sweeping intensity (notably in the Appassionata), his playing is characterised by a graceful directness of utterance, expressive warmth, generosity of spirit and by an extraordinary control of the quietest sonorities. If one had to single anything out, it would probably be his superlative Schubert Impromptus. Although many of these recordings are available on single discs elsewhere (notably on APR), for an overview of Fischer’s playing, this set is hard to beat. The sound of course betrays its age, but the transfers are superb.