10 DECEMBER 1937, Page 52


ScHuBERr's piano Sonatas have for so long been neglected by the gramophone that when one is at last recorded, pleasure may tempt one to exaggerate. It is true that none of the Sonatas is an entirely successful piece of music, but on the other hand every one of them contains sufficiently many striking and beautiful passages for it always to remain capable of giving pleasure when it is sympathetically performed. I can trace only two previous recordings of Schubert Sonatas—neither of them at all recent—but now that a start has been made with Schnabel's recording of the posthumous Sonata in A major (H.M.V. DB3103-7, 27s.) it is surely not excessive optimism to believe that more will follow. Herr Schnaberg Schubert is a great deal more attractive than either his Beethoven or his Mozart. In his playing of Schubert there is none of the dead- ness of tone and none of the pedantic literalness which make his playing of Beethoven so much less satisfying than Petri's and his Mozart so much less enjoyable than Fischer's. His per- formance of this Sonata is both brilliant and sympathetic, and the recording shows an immense improvement upon all the earlier Schnabel records. This set will be greatly prized by those who already possess an affectionate acquaintance with Schubert's piano music, and for those who do not it will be an excellent introduction.

One cannot give equal praise to the recording of Mozart's Piano Concerto in C major (K467) made by Schnabel and the London Symphony Orchestra under Sargent (H.M.V. DB3o99-31o2, 24s.). This Concerto has not, so far as I know, been recorded before, and the recording is in itself excellent. But Schnabel's performance is heavy-handed and generally lacking in the elegance which Mozart demands even in his most expansive moments. He is least out of sympathy in the gentle and delicious Andante, but in the other movements his interpre- tation often seems pedantic and lacking in vitality. On the other hand the orchestral tone is extremely fine, and since the Concerto is a delightful work, and opinions always differ about Herr Schnabel's interpretations, these records should at any rate be given a trial.

There were already several versions available of Grieg's Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. r6, but the only one satisfactory as a performance was the one technically least adequate as a record- ing. The new recording by Gieseking and the Berlin State Opera Orchestra under Rosbaud (Columbia LX647-5o, 24s.) is as a recording in a different class from any of its predecessors, and as a performance the equal of the best. Gieseking's playing seems sometimes a little too robust, but as a whole it is tremen- dously vital and fiery ; the orchestral playing is finely balanced and clear. This is not a set for anyone with a small gramophone, but on a gramophone of adequate size it will delight anyone who likes the work. Haydn's ever delightful Symphony No. 96 in D major is given an equally fine performance by Bruno Walter and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (H.M.V. DB3282-4, as.), and for once the recording is not spoilt by the reverberation in the Vienna hall—this is in many ways the most attractive set of the month. The latest pair to essay the Bach Concerto for Two Violins in D minor are Szigeti and Carl Flesch (Columbia LX659-6o, Ia.). They are players with very different styles, but their performance has nevertheless an excellent proportion and fluidity. The recording is very good. Those who already possess the Menuhin and Enesco set need not lose sleep for the lack of this, but anyone who has not a set of this work (if such a person exists) should compare the two carefully. Sir Thomas Beecham's masterly inter- pretation of the Mozart Symphony in G minor (K. 550) is familiar to concert-goers. The new recording which he has made with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Columbia LX 656-8, t8s.) is beautifully clear and balanced. This symphony ha,, often been recorded, but never more persuasively than here.

With an eye on Christmas, the E.M.G. Company have followed the lead of the book trade and initiated a scheme 01 Record Tokens. These tokens (which embody a quite agree- able Christmas Card) are issued for any amount, and can be exchanged through the company for records of any make— recipients of tokens should remember that the companyn specialise in Telefunken records, whose range includes many things not available on English records. The cost of postag: on records exchanged for tokens worth los. or more will 1).7 defrayed by the company, whose address is ii Grape Street,