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Wilhelm Backhaus - Chopin, Liszt, Schumann... (HMV recordings 1925-1937)

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Chopin, Liszt, Schumann... (HMV recordings 1925-1937)

Wilhelm Backhaus

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When thinking of the great German pianist Wilhelm Backhaus, the image of an old master with a large pale forehead often comes to mind, frozen in his somewhat wise and austere performances. With his fierce young Beethoven-like appearance, Backhaus gave his first recital in 1899 while his last concert, by which time he was a respectable old man, took place on June 28 1969, a week before his death. The miraculous advances in recording preserved this brilliant seventy-year-long career, because, unlike his colleagues Rubinstein and Schnabel who shied away from vinyl, Backhaus was one of the pioneers of the medium, having made his first records in 1908.

Created for His Master’s Voice (HMV) between 1925 and 1935 and carefully restored here, these recordings are mainly devoted to Chopin (with the first complete recording of the Études), Liszt and Schumann. In addition, the second part is reserved for the transcriptions that were popular in those distant times.

While the young Backhaus’ technique is breathtaking, it also teaches us something about musical history. Styles of playing change over the years and no one today would dare to play at such a dizzying speed. It was after the Second World War that pianists became a little more relaxed and began to abandon the sacred "short pieces" to play Beethoven's or Schubert's great sonatas, finding more gravity in keeping with the spirit of the times. The tempos slowed down significantly while the invention of the microgroove made it possible to capture long pieces of music, more favourable to the outpouring of expression than the 78-rpm sides allowed. It is truly touching to return to these recordings that symbolise a world that was lost forever. © François Hudry/Qobuz

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Chopin, Liszt, Schumann... (HMV recordings 1925-1937)

Wilhelm Backhaus

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Études, op. 10 (Frédéric Chopin)

1
No. 1 in C Major, Op. 10, No. 1
00:01:56

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

2
No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 10, No. 2
00:01:14

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

3
No. 3 in E Major, Op. 10, No. 3
00:04:27

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

4
No. 4 in C-Sharp Minor Op. 10, No. 4
00:01:52

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

5
No. 5 in G-Flat Major, Op. 10, No. 5, "Black Keys"
00:01:26

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

6
No. 6 in E-Flat Minor, Op. 10, No. 6
00:03:09

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

7
No. 7 in C Major, Op. 10, No. 7
00:01:21

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

8
No. 8 in F Major, Op. 10, No. 8
00:02:18

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

9
No. 9 in F Minor, Op. 10, No. 9
00:01:51

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

10
No. 10 in A-Flat Major, Op. 10, No. 10
00:02:18

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

11
No. 11 in E-Flat Major, Op. 10, No. 11
00:01:35

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

12
No. 12 in C Minor, Op. 10, No. 12, "Revolutionary"
00:02:32

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

Etudes, Op. 25 (Frédéric Chopin)

13
No. 13 in A-Flat Major, Op. 25, No. 1, "Harp Study"
00:02:04

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

14
No. 14 in F Minor, Op. 25, No. 2
00:01:14

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

15
No. 15 in F Major, Op. 25, No. 3
00:01:37

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

16
No. 16 in A Minor, Op. 25, No. 4
00:01:37

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

17
No. 17 in E Minor, Op. 25, No. 5
00:02:32

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

18
No. 18 in G-Sharp Minor, Op. 25, No. 6
00:01:49

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

19
No. 19 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 25, No. 7
00:04:36

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

20
No. 20 in D-Flat Major, Op. 25, No. 8
00:01:01

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

21
No. 21 in G-Flat Major, Op. 25, No. 9, "Butterfly's Wings"
00:00:51

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

22
No. 22 in B Minor, Op. 25, No. 10
00:03:35

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

23
No. 23 in A Minor, Op. 25, No. 11, "Winter Wind"
00:03:01

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

24
No. 24 in C Minor, Op. 25, No. 12
00:02:19

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

24 Preludes, Op. 28 (Frédéric Chopin)

25
No. 1 in C Major
00:00:51

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

Berceuse in D-Flat Major, Op. 57 (Frédéric Chopin)

26
Berceuse in D-Flat Major, Op. 57
00:03:59

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

Grande valse brillante in E-Flat Major, Op. 18 (Frédéric Chopin)

27
Waltz No. 1 in E-Flat Major, Op. 18, "Grande valse brillante"
00:04:26

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

Waltzes, Op. 64 (Frédéric Chopin)

28
Waltz No. 6 in D-Flat Major, Op. 64, No. 1, "Minute"
00:01:38

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

Fantasy-Impromptu in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 66 (Frédéric Chopin)

29
Fantasy-Impromptu in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 66
00:04:34

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Frederic Chopin, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61, MWV M13 (Felix Mendelssohn)

30
I. Scherzo
00:04:28

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Felix Mendelssohn, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

Czech Dances, Book 1 (Bedrich Smetana)

31
No. 3. Polka in F Major
00:02:54

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Bedrich Smetana, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

La source "Naïla, die quellenfee" (Léo Delibes)

32
La source, ou Naila, Act I: Valse
00:04:07

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Léo Delibes, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

DISC 2

Don Giovanni, K. 527 (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

1
Act II : Deh ! vieni alla finestra, "Serenade" (arr. for piano)
00:02:30

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

3 Marches militaires, Op. 51, D. 733 (Franz Schubert)

2
No. 3 in E-Flat Major
00:04:34

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Franz Schubert, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

Soirées de Vienne, S. 427 (Franz Liszt)

3
No. 6. Allegro con strepito
00:04:40

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Franz Liszt, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

2 Konzertetüden, S. 145 (Franz Liszt)

4
No. 1. Waldesrauschen (Forest Murmurs)
00:03:21

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Franz Liszt, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

Liebesträume, S. 541 (Franz Liszt)

5
No. 3. Nocturne in A-Flat Major
00:03:54

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Franz Liszt, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

19 Hungarian Rhapsodies, S244/R106 (Franz Liszt)

6
No. 2 in C-Sharp Minor
00:07:57

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Franz Liszt, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

Myrthen, op. 25 (Anonyme)

7
No. 1. Widmung (arr. for piano)
00:03:16

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Robert Schumann, Composer - Anonymous, Arranger

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

Fantasiestücke, op. 12 (Robert Schumann)

8
No. 2. Aufschwung
00:03:11

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Robert Schumann, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

9
No. 7. Traumes Wirren
00:02:38

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Robert Schumann, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

Nachtstucke, Op. 23 (Robert Schumann)

10
No. 4. Ad libitum - Einfach (Rundgesang mit Solostimmen)
00:04:32

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Robert Schumann, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

Fantasie in C major, Op. 17 (Robert Schumann)

11
I. Durchaus phantastisch und leidenschaftlich vorzutragen - Im Legendenton - Erstes tempo
00:12:24

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Robert Schumann, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

12
II. Mässig
00:06:32

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Robert Schumann, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

13
III. Langsam getragen
00:09:25

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Robert Schumann, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

Iberia, Book 2 (Isaac Albéniz)

14
III. Triana
00:04:26

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Isaac Albeniz, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

España, op. 165 (Isaac Albéniz)

15
II. Tango
00:02:49

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Isaac Albeniz, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

Caprice espagnol, op. 37 (Moritz Moszkowski)

16
Caprice espagnol, Op. 37
00:04:25

Wilhelm Backhaus, Piano - Moritz Moszkowski, Composer

(C) 2018 APR (P) 2018 APR

Album Description

When thinking of the great German pianist Wilhelm Backhaus, the image of an old master with a large pale forehead often comes to mind, frozen in his somewhat wise and austere performances. With his fierce young Beethoven-like appearance, Backhaus gave his first recital in 1899 while his last concert, by which time he was a respectable old man, took place on June 28 1969, a week before his death. The miraculous advances in recording preserved this brilliant seventy-year-long career, because, unlike his colleagues Rubinstein and Schnabel who shied away from vinyl, Backhaus was one of the pioneers of the medium, having made his first records in 1908.

Created for His Master’s Voice (HMV) between 1925 and 1935 and carefully restored here, these recordings are mainly devoted to Chopin (with the first complete recording of the Études), Liszt and Schumann. In addition, the second part is reserved for the transcriptions that were popular in those distant times.

While the young Backhaus’ technique is breathtaking, it also teaches us something about musical history. Styles of playing change over the years and no one today would dare to play at such a dizzying speed. It was after the Second World War that pianists became a little more relaxed and began to abandon the sacred "short pieces" to play Beethoven's or Schubert's great sonatas, finding more gravity in keeping with the spirit of the times. The tempos slowed down significantly while the invention of the microgroove made it possible to capture long pieces of music, more favourable to the outpouring of expression than the 78-rpm sides allowed. It is truly touching to return to these recordings that symbolise a world that was lost forever. © François Hudry/Qobuz

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