, October 2007
More pianistic jewels to adorn this glittering Naxos project
Having found myself enveloped in a recent BBC programme devoted to Naxos’s Women at the Piano by two ardent but musically uninfonned feminists, it is good to return to the real thing and celebrate the third volume in this fascinating series. Not everything is 'extraordinary' as the sleeve claims (Ethel Leginska’s Schubert is more sturdy than illuminating) but there are many scintillating jewels in the crown.
Annarosa Taddai’s perfonnance of Sandro Fuga’s Study No. 1, a ghostly memory of Paul de Schlozer’s A flat Etude made famous by Eileen Joyce, is nimbly and stylishly dispatched. Annie d’Arco (much admired by her compatriot Cecile Ousset) gives us brilliantly focused and articulate Mendelssohn, and Rosalyn Tureck’s Bach was made long before her playing degenerated into pedantry. Yvonne Loriod’s Messiaen is, not surprisingly, highly authoritative and Elly Ney’s richly humane Beethoven helps to erase her unfortunate sobriquet, 'the Führer’s Pianist'. Halina Stefanska’s Chopin is pleasingly economical and unmannered, and if Clara Haskil’s Haydn is on the frosty side, her legendary musical integrity is never in doubt. Amparo Iturbi (sister of a more famous brother) plays Infante’s Guadalquivir blazing ultra-Spanish virtuosity and Nadia Reisenberg’s way with Rachmaninov, which I recall from her 1954 Westminster disc, is full-toned, sumptuously inflected and indelibly Russian. Livia Rev’s effervescent Poulenc Toccata brings this brilliant assembly to a close and together with so much else makes you look forward eagerly to Vol. 4.