Recordings
 
 
 



Recordings

Below are links to some Matthay pupils and recordings discussed in England's Piano Sage which are somewhat difficult to find. (N.B.: This site contains no uploaded recorded material. Neither the author nor Scarecrow Press makes any claims concerning the legality of recordings uploaded to other sites nor assumes any responsibility for that legality.)

TOBIAS MATTHAY performing his Prelude and Bravura (Columbia DX444, 1933)

FROM ENGLAND'S PIANO SAGE, p. 331: "The Prelude and 'Bravura' were from eight Studies in the Form of a Suite, Op. 16, which Matthay had completed by the spring of 1887—but only Numbers 1, 7, and 8 (all in the key of E) were published. He originally labeled five of the pieces 'Etudes' and the remaining three 'Intermezzi,' but by the time they reached press, only No. 7, an Intermezzo, kept its original title."


FROM ENGLAND'S PIANO SAGE, p. 331: "The Prelude is clearly a study in cantabile playing. Though the published score does not include a metronome marking, Matthay's penciled notation reads: '72-76 [=quarter note] is quick enough—it is a slow movement!' But whatever tempo he chose for the broadcast, his recording is closer to quarter note = 84, and since its length is only 2:09, he was not speeding up merely to accommodate the limited disc space characteristic of 1930s technology. In all probability, he played the piece as he felt it, and however many takes may have been involved, this performance, which occasionally features a few prominent wrong notes, has the spontaneous character of a 'live' improvisation. As written, the Prelude requires legato, sustained lines, almost all in the tenor, which must sing out against highly decorative, arpeggiated soprano textures. The Gramophone observed that Columbia's "admirable" engineering was "clear as a bell," and it should be noted that the pianist's kaleidoscopic tonal palette was well captured."


FROM ENGLAND'S PIANO SAGE, p. 331: "Bravura, which Matthay has marked 'Vivacissimo,' is a virtuosic frolic in parallel scales. His pencil notations suggest a tempo of quarter note = 120-126, but his whirlwind recording is often closer to quarter note = 180. Many of the reviews noted that his technical wizardry was impressive for an artist of any age, and the British Musician even observed that 'in every respect of flexibility, ease, speed and strength, one would fancy that some youthful prodigy of the piano were the performer.'"

YORK BOWEN performing Chopin's Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 31 (Vocalion, 1926)

YORK BOWEN made the first commercial recording of Beethoven's Fourth Concerto for Vocalion a year earlier in 1925.


HARRIET COHEN performing Walter Rummel's transcription of Bach's Ertöt' uns durch dein' Güte (Columbia, 1928)

HARRIET COHEN also made numerous Bach transcriptions during this period, and she recorded the first half of the Well-Tempered Clavier, Bk. I, for Columbia.

IRENE SCHARRER performing Liszt's Concert Paraphrase on Verdi's Rigoletto (Columbia, 1929)

IRENE SCHARRER made her first recording for the Gramophone label in 1909.



ETHEL BARTLETT and RAE ROBERTSON performing Rae's two-piano arrangement of Bach's Organ Sonata No. 1 in E-Flat, BWV 525 (HMV, 1933)

BARTLETT & ROBERTSON performing the Waltz from Arensky's First Suite, Op. 15 (HMV, 1935)

FROM ENGLAND'S PIANO SAGE, p. 311: "But although neither Myra [Hess] nor Irene [Scharrer] achieved their greatest impact as duo-pianists, another Matthay-trained couple thrived on the medium. In 1924, Matthay's RAM pupil Ethel Bartlett (1901-78) married another of his Academy scholars, the Edinburgh-born Rae Robertson (1893-1956), and they soon began working together. For the first three years, they continued to work in England both as soloists and collaborative artists—Ethel most notably with cellist John Barbirolli before he began to focus more on conducting. Rae's appearances were more varied: for example, on 15 August 1923 he performed Strauss's rarely heard Burlesk at the Proms; on 13 October 1925 he appeared with (then) violinist William Primrose at Wigmore Hall; and on 12 July 1928 he participated in a revival of Stravinsky's Les Noces at His Majesty's Theatre—in which Matthay allied him with Lyell Barbour, Clifford Curzon, and Frank Mannheimer. As duo-pianists, Bartlett and Robertson made their London debut at Wigmore Hall on 17 June 1924 to lukewarm praise, The Times reviewer noting that 'they have not fully understood yet that the point of playing on two pianos is not to get more sound but to work out intricate detail more clearly.' But by 1927, the negativism had been largely replaced by accolades, as when they performed the Mozart E-flat Concerto at the Proms 'with exactly the right kind of tone, crisp but not dry, and in exactly the right style, light and also warm.' By the end of the decade they were the ranking two-piano team in Britain, if not Europe, and they undertook world tours virtually every season until the War."

RAIE DA COSTA performing her own stylization of Cole Porter's "Night and Day"(HMV, 1933)

FROM ENGLAND'S PIANO SAGE, pp. 335-36: "In 1930, [Raie Da Costa] left Parlophone for HMV, and three years later the company staged a publicity coup when Cole Porter's Gay Divorce opened at the [London] Palace on 2 November 1933. A mere two weeks earlier, Da Costa had recorded the show's hit song, 'Night and Day,' and on the morning it opened, HMV was already advertising it, along with three additional versions: 'Brilliant records of "Night and Day," the tune from "Gay Divorce" that everyone is singing, humming, and whistling. Fred Astaire, the star of the show, sings the vocal refrain in Leo Reisman's record. Paul Whiteman plays it, Raie de Costa gives her interpretation of it, and the Comedy Harmonists give their unique male-voice version of it. All on "His Master's Voice." They are on sale to-day at your dealers; call and hear them now!' Now that she was ranked with Astaire, Whiteman, and the Harmonists (a classically trained, six-man, German a cappella group that had developed a cult following), Raie Da Costa's career had peaked."

VIDEO: RAIE DA COSTA performing Felix Arndt's "Nola"

"NOLA," written in 1915 by Felix Arndt, soon became a staple of the early novelty entertainer, "syncopated" pianists such as Zez Confrey and England's Billy Mayerl, who was the most popular light pianist in Britain when Raie Da Costa arrived on the scene in the late 1920s. In 1932 she recorded this short film in Haarlem, about 15 miles west of Amsterdam, for the Dutch newsreel company Polygoons. The inscription at the beginning of the film translates to: "In spite of the brief stay in the Netherlands of the renowned pianist Raie da Costa she found time to play for the POLYGOONS microphone." She performs on a German Rönisch piano.

EILEEN JOYCE performing Liszt's "La Leggierezza" (Parlophone, 1933)

FROM ENGLAND'S PIANO SAGE, p. 317: "On 16 February 1933, [Eileen Joyce] played Grainger's 'Handel in the Strand' and Liszt's 'La Leggierezza' [at one of Matthay's "Practice Concerts"], pairing the latter with his 'Waldesrauschen' for the Queen Hall's closer later that season on 11 July. Ten days earlier at Wigmore Hall she performed Hummel's Rondo in E-flat with the demanding Etude in A-flat by Paul de Schlözer (1841-98), and three weeks before that, on 8 June, she had paired the Schlözer with 'Leggierezza' for her first Parlophone record, a 'vanity' recording to which one of her male admirers had committed £ 20. The disc was meant purely to enhance her marketability to concert agents, but when Parlophone executives listened to it, they were so overwhelmed with her virtuosity that they had it placed in record shops by August."

EILEEN JOYCE performing Richard Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto (Columbia, 1942)

FROM ENGLAND'S PIANO SAGE, pp. 336-37: "At Wigmore Hall on the evening of 9 July 1919, fourteen-year-old 'Master Dick Addinsell'—then studying with [Matthay's sister] Dora—performed a movement from Ravel's Sonatine at a TMPS concert given on behalf of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Several years later, he briefly attended the RCM, and by the late 'twenties—now as Richard Addinsell—he was contributing songs and other music to West End stage shows. In 1928, he began a lifelong collaboration with writer Clemence Dane (of whose plays Jessie was especially fond), creating operettas and other pieces to her libretti. In 1932, he composed the score for His Lordship, a musical film directed by Michael Powell (The Thief of Bagdad), and for the next 35 years, cinema was always a second love, with Goodbye, Mr. Chips, the 1939 film starring Robert Donat, being one of his most remembered scores. During the War, he also began writing songs for Myra's close friend, Joyce Grenfell, but his score for the 1941 British propaganda film Dangerous Moonlight [released in the U. S. as Suicide Squadron]—in the words of David Ades—'eclipsed all others as far as the public was concerned.' His Warsaw Concerto, composed in a mock-Lisztian style, was eventually recorded in over 100 different versions, with total sales exceeding five million. During the War, Eileen Joyce performed a concert version of it throughout England with the LPO, and Addinsell's music soon set the tone for a plethora of 'piano concerto'-type film scores in the late 'forties and early 'fifties."

At London's Cambridge Theatre in 1942, Joyce performed a Mozart concerto with Muir Mathieson—best known then for his work at the BBC and in films—conducting the London Symphony, and Addinsell's work was on the same program. It achieved instant popularity and Columbia soon issued this recording, which eventually became a signature piece for the pianist. However, when Columbia re-released the recording as an LP in 1950, they gave Joyce no credit as the pianist, despite the fact that the same disc contained two other film extracts—including Bax's score for Oliver Twist—featuring pianist Harriet Cohen, who was credited.


ADOLPH HALLIS performing Debussy's Etude No. 11, "Pour les arpèges composés" (Decca, 1938)

FROM ENGLAND'S PIANO SAGE, pp. 324-25: "No Matthay student ever did more for contemporary music than his South African pupil Adolph Hallis (1896-1987), who left his native Port Elizabeth in 1912 for the RAM, where he studied with [Oscar] Beringer. The War forced him home in 1915, but by the early 1920s he had returned to London for study with Matthay, who included him in his 1922 RAM concert that paid tribute to Academy composers. Through this period Hallis also toured extensively in Europe, though largely with traditional repertoire. In 1926, Matthay added him to the staff of the TMPS, and by the end of the decade his performances of solo and chamber works had become virtual staples of early BBC programming. His interests were wide, and soon he had even composed symphonic soundtracks for two early Hitchcock films: the visually opulent Rich and Strange (1931), and the taut, suspenseful Number Seventeen (1932).

"In April 1936, he performed the recently composed Shostakovitch Concerto for Piano, Strings, and Trumpet in Birmingham, and in the same year he founded The Adolph Hallis Chamber Music Concerts which, as Caroline Mears observes, were 'notable for their enterprising programmes.' Three years later, the second War forced him to return to South Africa, but through this brief period he was one of the most visible figures on London’s contemporary music scene─even though his stated purpose was to promote “forgotten works of the past” as well as 'new works of the immediate present.' For example, on 15 February 1937, he oversaw a Wigmore Hall performance of Couperin’s Concert instrumental sous le titre d’Apothéose, 14 pieces for two violins, ‘cello, and harpsichord, composed in memory of Lully. ... His April concert opened with Beethoven’s Trio in C minor for Strings, Op. 9, no. 3—after which he performed the second book of Debussy Etudes [according to The Times] with 'remarkable virtuosity and a nice sense of tone colour.'” Hallis recorded both books of Debussy Etudes for Decca in 1938, the first complete recording.


DAME MOURA LYMPANY performing Balakirev's Islamey (Decca, 1947)

FROM ENGLAND'S PIANO SAGE, p. 363: [Dame Moura remembered her first meeting with Matthay]: 'I fell in love with him the moment I saw him. He was so gentle, a darling little white-haired old man with a moustache, his eyes shining behind wire-rimmed spectacles, dressed exquisitely in a frogged black velvet jacket, velvet skull-cap and patent-leather slippers. He smiled sweetly at me, and patiently. His first lesson was a revelation. Seated beside me at the piano he explained more to me in one sentence than I had managed to discover from all his books.' . . . She remained under Matthay's guidance for the next nine years."

LIVE RADIO BROADCAST: DAME MYRA HESS performing Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat, Op. 83, with Bruno Walter and the New York Philharmonic (1st mvmt, pt. 1)
1st mvmt, pt. 2
2nd mvmt
3rd mvmt, pt. 1
3rd mvmt, pt. 2
4th mvmt

This concert, broadcast on February 11, 1951, was the culmination of a Brahms cycle in which Walter performed all four of the Symphonies, and it represents a remarkable collaboration between pianist and conductor. Olin Downes, chief critic for the New York Times, who heard the February 8 concert, wrote, "The B-flat concerto is perhaps the most demanding in the pianist's repertory. It requires immense technique and physical power as background for the interpretation. Then the esthetic requirements are to be faced, and here a profound musician and poet too are necessary. Miss Hess played with astonishing virility and sensitive feeling."

RAY LEV performing the Scherzo from Schumann's Piano Quartet, Op. 47, with members of the Guilet Quartet (Concert Hall Society, 1952)

FROM ENGLAND'S PIANO SAGE, pp. 340-41: "The most impressive AMA Scholar, Ray (Rachel) Lev, appeared [for study at the Matthay School] in 1930, and her scholarship was extended for two additional years by the New York Philharmonic. By the end of the decade she had garnered a wide following on both sides of the Atlantic." Ray Lev was born in Russia to a Jewish cantor who emigrated to New York when she was quite young. This recording, which includes violinst Daniel Guilet, violist William Schoen, and cellist David Soyer (at the time all members of the NBC Symphony), is exceedingly rare. The Concert Hall Society issued a number of LP recordings limited to a pressing of 3,000.