One of three complementary albums which celebrate the art of the Hungarian pianist, Andor Foldes, in the music of Beethoven, this Eloquence release pairs an eventful journey through the composer’s sonatas with his excursions into shorter and lighter repertoire.
Taken by itself, the release would serve as an ideal introduction to Beethoven’s piano music. Foldes was renowned for his no-frills pianism, just as the composer was known in his own time for lessons which did not fuss about a dropped note here or there but concentrated on expression and direct communication. These are the qualities already to be prized in the
Op. 7 Sonata, written five years after Beethoven’s decisive move from Bonn to Vienna but still bursting with the exuberance of his twenties.
At the other end of the composer’s career, the release presents Beethoven at his most puzzling and confrontational in the Op. 126 Bagatelles – the briefest of which lasts barely ten seconds – and at his most searching in his penultimate Sonata, Op. 110. The Ecossaises and little-known Rondos present a lighter, more carefree side to Beethoven and his best-known work for piano, ‘Für Elise’, shares a tenderness with the more profound slow movement which he had intended to use for the ‘Waldstein’ Sonata but eventually let stand alone as the ‘Andante favori’.
Foldes made these recordings over four years at the end of the 1950s when he was invited across the world to perform the Classical masters which he had most loved since the beginning of his prodigious career: he had performed the First and Fourth concertos in public by the age of eleven. He was a diligent and sober recording artist as his Beethoven series for Deutsche Grammophon exemplifies.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
Piano Sonata No. 4 in E flat major, Op. 7
Piano Sonata No. 6 in F major, Op. 10 No. 2
Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major, Op. 14 No. 1
Piano Sonata No. 19 in G minor, Op. 49 No. 1
Piano Sonata No. 31 in A flat major, Op. 110
Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp major, Op. 78 ‘À Thérèse’
Bagatelle in A minor, WoO 59 ‘Für Elise’
Six Bagatelles, Op. 126
Ecossaise in E flat major, WoO 86
Andante favori in F major, WoO 57
32 Variations in C minor on an original theme, WoO 80
Two Rondos, Op. 51
Piano Sonata No. 25 in G major, Op. 79
Andor Foldes, piano
ALL FIRST RELEASES ON CD, EXCEPT PIANO SONATA, OP. 7
Recording Producers: Hans Weber (Sonatas Op. 7, Op. 14 No. 1, Op. 110); Hans Ritter (Sonatas Op. 78, Op. 49 No. 1); Karl-Heinz Schneider (Für Elise, Andante favori, Ecossaise, Bagatelles Op. 126, Sonatas Op. 10 No. 2, Op. 79); Klaus Fischer-Dieskau (Rondos Op. 51)
Balance Engineers: Walter-Alfred Wettler (Sonatas Op. 7, Op. 14 No. 1); Heinz Wildhagen (Sonatas Op. 10 No. 2, Op. 49 No. 1, Op. 78, Op. 79, Variations WoO 80, Rondos Op. 51); Harald Baudis (Sonata Op. 110); Werner Wolf (Für Elise, Andante favori, Ecossaise, Bagatelles Op. 126)
Recording Locations: Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, Germany, 5–6 February 1960 (Sonatas Op. 78, Op. 49 No. 1); Grosser Saal, Musikhalle, Hamburg, Germany, 15 May 1957 (Für Elise, Andante favori), 18 & 19 May 1957 (Ecossaise), 15 & 18 May 1957 (Bagatelles Op. 126); Beethoven-Saal, Hanover, Germany, 8–10 & 12 August 1960 (Sonata Op. 7), 6 & 7 November 1957 and 24 & 25 March 1958 (Sonata Op. 10 No. 2), 10–11 August 1960 (Sonata Op. 14 No. 1), 30 June and 4 & 6 July 1957 (Variations WoO 80), 11 January 1959 (Rondos Op. 51), 15 December 1958 (Sonata Op. 79); Kulturraum, Bamberg, Germany, 20 & 21 April 1960 (Sonata Op. 110)
Remastering Engineer: Michael Beier
‘The Ecossaises suddenly break free from the chilly discipline, and blossom delightfully … The recording is at once deep and clear.’ Gramophone, March 1958
‘Foldes has quite wonderful technique. It is impossible to think of his ever playing strings of wrong notes; one could more easily believe his last wrong note occurred in 1949, so assured does he sound. His playing is beautifully clean.’ Gramophone, November 1959 (Rondos)