Rarely encountered and previously unpublished recordings by a major Swiss pianist of the 1950s and 60s.
Born in Lucerne in 1911, Albert Ferber studied with a pupil of Alfred Cortot and often played for Rachmaninov in Switzerland. International critics visiting the 1939 Lucerne Festival were impressed by ‘an exceptional Swiss pianist … who also showed in works of Schubert and Schumann some uncommon pianistic gifts’.
Such sympathy of idiom is readily apparent in Ferber’s postwar Decca recordings, made in London. His pedigree in Schumann was unimpeachable: in 1951 he partnered Clara Schumann’s pupil Adelina de Lara in a performance of Schumann’s Andante and Variations, Op. 46 for two pianos at her Wigmore farewell recital. Around the same time he made this recording of Kinderszenen, which was issued on a 10-inch LP with a selection of Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words.
Critics tended to focus on Ferber’s sensitivity, grace and musical intelligence, and these qualities distinguish the Beethoven and Schubert sonatas on this newly remastered compilation. He recorded them both in 1946, having begun to record for Decca in December the previous year. Those initial sessions included two short pieces of Mozart which were never issued but have turned up on a test pressing and are included here. Likewise receiving its first publication in any format is Haydn’s C major Fantasia, a performance from May 1947. This compilation demands the attention of all pianophiles and is further enhanced by an introduction to Ferber’s life and art by the piano-music expert Jonathan Summers.
JOSEPH HAYDN (1732–1809)
1 Fantasia in C major, Hob.XVII:4°
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756–1791)
2 Minuet in D major, KV 355°
3 Gigue in G major, KV 574°
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
4–6 Piano Sonata No. 26 in E flat major, Op. 81a ‘Les Adieux’*
FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797–1828)
7 Impromptu in F minor, D.935 (Op. 142) No. 1*
8–10 Piano Sonata in A major, D. 664 (Op. 120)*
FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809–1847)
Lieder ohne Worte*
Songs without Words
11 Book I No. 1 in E major, Op. 19 No. 1 ‘Sweet Remembrance’
12 Book VIII No. 3 in C major, Op. 102 No. 3 ‘Children’s Piece’
13 Book VIII No. 4 in G minor, Op. 102 No. 4 ‘The Sighing Wind’
14 Book V No. 3 in E minor, Op. 62 No. 3 ‘Funeral March’
15 Book II No. 6 in F sharp minor, Op. 30 No. 6 ‘Venetian Gondola Song’
16 Book VI No. 4 in C major, Op. 67 No. 4 ‘Spinning Song’
ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810–1856)
17–29 Kinderszenen, Op. 15*
Albert Ferber, piano
*FIRST CD RELEASE ON DECCA
Recording Producers: unknown (Haydn, Mendelssohn, Schumann); Terence Gibbs (Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert)
Balance Engineers: unknown (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann); Arthur Lilley (Schubert)
Recording Location: Decca Studios, West Hampstead, London, UK, 19 December 1945 (Mozart), 17 July 1946 (Beethoven), 27 May 1946 (Schubert), 8 May 1947 (Haydn), 28-30 May 1951 (Mendelssohn, Schumann)
Transfers and Audio Restoration: Mark Obert-Thorn
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