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Classical - Released October 15, 2021 | APR

Booklet
Harold Samuel (1879–1937) was the first pianist to specialize in the performance of Bach’s original keyboard works in the concert hall and achieved worldwide acclaim in doing so. His pioneering HMV and Columbia recordings of the composer (all the Bach works included here, except for the first Prelude and Fugue from The Well-Tempered Clavier, were premiers on disc) sound as fresh and inspiring today as they did when new and reveal that great Bach playing is timeless. A unique live 5th Brandenburg Concerto from New York and a studio E major Violin Sonata with Isolde Menges round out his Bach and this landmark release also includes his remaining solo recordings, notably some rare repertoire by Clementi and two of Bach’s sons which was recorded for the ambitious Columbia History of Music educational project. These new 2021 transfers by Seth Winner were made using the latest technology and present these historic documents in the best possible sound, revealing more detail of Samuel’s playing than has ever previously been captured. © APR Recordings
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Classical - Released September 3, 2021 | APR

Booklet
We tend to remember the British pianist CYRIL SMITH (1909–1974) these days as the pianist who overcame the misfortune of a paralyzing stroke to form a hugely successful duo for three hands with his wife, pianist Phyllis Sellick. Before then though, he had conquered the virtuoso repertoire in a most un-British fashion – making Rachmaninov the center of his art and recording a series of warhorses in spectacular style. The Dohnányi Capriccio of 1929, his earliest recording, and part of a prize for a competition win, lays down the gauntlet in a coruscating performance to rival the Horwitz version released the same year. His recordings of the 2nd and 3rd Rachmaninov concertos and Rhapsody were for a time best-sellers. But there is poetry and charm too, particularly in the various encore-like transcriptions he set down. This set brings together for the first time all the recordings he made as a solo player before his stroke. © APR Recordings
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Classical - Released June 18, 2021 | APR

Booklet
The two pianists featured here were contemporaries, both English. Both made a small number of recordings for Columbia between 1926 and 1930 and today are largely forgotten. Howard-Jones was of an academic nature whose interpretations were described as having ‘scholarly and fastidious profundity’. He excelled in Bach and Brahms and his Well-Tempered Clavier recordings in particular offer playing of rare spirituality and beauty. As a friend of the composer and dedicatee of five of the piano pieces, his Delius recordings, which comprise the complete meagre published output for solo piano by the composer, have a unique authority. Edward Isaacs, who revelled in the repertoire of Chopin and Liszt, was described as "a kindly genial companion and a witty charming raconteur". His recordings radiate brilliance and joie de vivre. This is the first time most of these discs have been reissued since the days of the original 78s. An added bonus is the discovery of a wonderful previously unpublished Howard-Jones recording of Beethoven’s Rondo in G major. © APR Recordings
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Classical - Released March 19, 2021 | APR

Booklet
Sergio Fiorentino’s career began auspiciously with successes both in competition and on the world’s stages, including a Carnegie Hall debut in 1953, but a plane crash in 1954 affected him badly and momentum was lost. He recorded prolifically for British budget labels in the late 1950s and 1960s, but his concert profile was never fully to recover. Fiorentino’s 1993 German concerts marked a return to the stage two decades after the pianist’s disillusionment with the performer’s life had led him to concentrate on teaching. These resulting live recordings, which revealed a pianist in the grand romantic tradition, were to astound the critics and relaunched Fiorentino’s career in the studio and on stage for a few glorious years, until his death in 1998. © APR Recordings
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Classical - Released February 5, 2021 | APR

Booklet
Parisian, Emma Boynet (1891–1974) studied with Isidor Philipp at the Conservatoire and became an established part of the local music scene in the 1920s and 1930s. She was one of the few French pianists to find success in the United States, travelling there for the first time in the company of her former teacher in 1934, and as a result, made several albums for Victor in New York, including a five-disc 78rpm album entitled "French Piano Music". Her career seems to have faltered in the 1950s but not before she made two highly regarded (but now rare) Fauré LPs which have become collectors’ items. © APR Recordings
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Classical - Released November 20, 2020 | APR

Booklet
This new publication from the historic label APR dedicated to Wilhelm Backhaus is of undeniable musical and political interest. The first ever publication of the recordings that marked the end of the German pianist’s collaboration with HMW (His Master’s Voice) which started in 1908 and was brutally interrupted in 1948. The recordings took place in Switzerland, an escape and refuge for more or less active sympathisers of the Nazi regime, like Alfred Corto and Wilhelm Backhaus. The latter refused to return to London and demanded the pieces were recorded in his adoptive country.Claiming that there were cutting problems on the masters upon their arrival in London, Walter Legge (the producer at the label HMW) never published these recordings, being neither satisfied with the pianist whose playing he found dry and heartless, nor the acoustics and the bad piano at the Zurich studio. The real reason clearly being the fact that Legge was not able to act as the artistic director for these recordings. Furious, Backhaus wrote a long letter to Legge putting a definitive end to their collaboration, the pianist then returned back to the “rival” label Decca, with whom he recorded his interpretations up until his death in 1969.Among the chosen works by Bach (Italian Concerto, Prelude and Fugue in B flat major), Mozart (Sonata K. 331), Beethoven (Sonata no. 18) and Schubert (Impromptu in E flat major), one finds of Wilhelm Backhaus’ typical sobriety and virtuosity whose pared down playing is distinguished by its great polyphonic clarity. His interpretation of Mozart’s rather unpopular “Coronation”, his Concerto K. 537 was recorded in Berlin in November 1941 when the Third Reich controlled a Europe on its knees. While we know that Backhaus had played for the Führer in private, here we find him alongside Fritz Zaun, a supporter of the regime, for this homage to Mozart. Backhaus plays with his own cadences and never hesitates to ornament or embellish some of the chords that Mozart had left bare, a practice often used by Backhaus in line with the traditions of the time. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released August 28, 2020 | APR

Booklet
Here, a real gold mine is offered to all the numerous fans of the great Franco-Brazilian pianist Magda Tagliaferro. From the Ballade by Fauré in its first orchestral version, recorded in 1928, to the 5th Concerto of Saint-Saëns recorded for Philips in the famous Apollo Theatre in Faubourg-du-Temple, Paris in 1954. A vast repertoire is reestablished for us here with pearls such as Mozart’s Concerto n° 25 lead by the famous Reynaldo Hahn in 1930, or even his own Concerto in E Major dedicated to Mozart and recorded seven years later under his baton. A permanent feature of the APR label is the quality of sound reproduction which manages to considerably reduce friction pick up and unwanted sounds, all while conserving the dynamics and precision of the original sound.Magda Tagliaferro greatly impressed the jury at the Paris Conservatoire in 1907 when she was awarded the Premier Prix at the age of fourteen in front of Albéniz, Fauré and Alfred Cortot, who immediately made her their student. Known for the quality of her playing, Magda Tagliaferro was also graced with an exuberant temperament that verged on eccentricity. She has magnificently championed the work of Romantic composers but also her French and Spanish contemporaries whose music she passionately plays on this series of recordings including Debussy, Fauré, Mompou, Granados, Albéniz and Reynaldo Hahn alongside Mozart, Chopin, Schumann, Weber and Mendelssohn. Here, the spirit of Paris in the 1930s is brought back to life, to our great pleasure! © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released May 15, 2020 | APR

Booklet
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Classical - Released March 20, 2020 | APR

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released October 18, 2019 | APR

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Playing with clarity and a refined touch: these were recurring themes of descriptions of the subtle art of the French pianist Robert Casadesus (1899-1972). The label APR has chosen a most opportune movement to restore all the recordings that he made in the inter-war years for Columbia, from 1928 and 1939. The work was done with great care, removing surface noise without impairing the quality of the initial recording. This publication is a goldmine for anyone who only knows Casadesus from his later recordings: here we can hear a man in the full bloom of youth. What a treat are these eleven finely-chiselled Sonatas by Scarlatti, for example: their dazzling volubility and virtuosity leave us flabbergasted. Once again, we can only admire the freedom of the pianists of the era, their sense of colour and their choices of incredibly rapid tempos. The programme, which runs to four records is as varied as it is copious, offering works from the "great repertoire" (Scarlatti, two Mozart Concertos, Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin's Four Ballades), but also rare pearls that we discover or return to with pleasure, such as the delicate symphonic poem with piano, Mon Lac (inspired by the lake Paladru in the Isère) by that inimitable organiser of Lyon's musical life, Georges Martin Witkowski – a piece that Casadesus loved to play; the Sonata for Cello and Piano by Debussy with Maurice Maréchal; Fauré's Piano Quartet No. 1 with the legendary Calvet Quartet; and indeed the Sonata for Flute and Piano by Casadesus himself, which he plays with René Le Roy. This anthology revives a pianist who was much-loved in his day, both at home in France and around the world and especially in the United States. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released September 6, 2019 | APR

Booklet
Producer’s noteMany of these recordings date from the earliest days of electrical recording which only beganin 1925. Although the system was perfected within a very few years and ultimately was a vastimprovement over the previous ‘acoustic’ process, some of the discs from 1925 and 1926 seemto have been recorded at an excessively low level, resulting in a weak signal that can becomeseriously compromised by the inevitable surface noise of shellac discs. This, coupled with thedifficulty of finding pristine copies of the original discs, has meant that several sides are noisierthan one would have hoped. In addition, Murdoch’s first electrical session of 23 November 1925suffers from both a ‘boxy’ acoustic and an out-of-tune piano. In the interests of preserving theserare discs it seems better to include everything rather than just the best of them and I hopecollectors can hear past these defects and enjoy the very musical playing of this almost forgottenartist. (APR / Michael Spring)
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Solo Piano - Released July 5, 2019 | APR

Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Classical - Released June 7, 2019 | APR

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Solo Piano - Released March 1, 2019 | APR

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released January 4, 2019 | APR

Booklet
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Classical - Released October 26, 2018 | APR

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 étoiles de Classica
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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Classical - Released October 26, 2018 | APR

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 5 étoiles de Classica
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 July 5 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. This album contains all his Beethovenian recordings produced in London before the war. We find extraordinary performances of four sonatas and Concertos No. 4 and No. 5, with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Landon Ronald. Recorded in 1927, the Emperor was easy for both the pianist and the orchestra and required few takes. In 1928, Backhaus told the British press that his recording of Concerto no. 5 was the most beautiful thing he would ever make, without knowing that he still had over forty career years ahead of him. The sessions for the 4th Concerto were very different. Three sessions were needed in September 1929 and two more were added in March 1930 following technical problems. Contrary to the myth that the takes were all unique at the time of the 78 rpm, it took seven or eight of them (the faces lasted two minutes, during which time "no" mistakes were allowed) to complete the work in March 1930, because Backhaus and the musicians – who were probably very tired at this point - were constantly tripping up. The result is nevertheless stunning, as the rendition is characterised by a breath-taking fluidity. The difficulty of recording at the time was that you could easily lose the tension or tempo from one side of the record to the other. However, Backhaus' winged touch, probably on one of the very light pianos of that time, spins like a spring-time wind. The rest of this double album is devoted to four sonatas and a few of Bach's Preludes and Fugues. Let us add that the softness and precision of these recordings perfectly illustrates the mastery acquired in a short time by the sound engineers. As with old films, today's restorations allow us to see and hear these testimonies from a distant past in such a quality that our elders would never have thought possible. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released September 14, 2018 | APR

Booklet
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Classical - Released July 6, 2018 | APR

Booklet
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Classical - Released May 4, 2018 | APR

Booklet