Béla's List

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This is a list of music that is occupying me at the moment. It seemed a good idea to share it - I will add to the list at regular intervals, and occasionally write a few lines on this page where it seems desirable. It is by no means a list of favourite recordings, a top ten or one hundred or anything like that, just a list of pieces/recordings I feel I can recommend. Just click on the above link to reach the playlist.

 

Schubert; An den Mond, D259 - Florian Boesch, Malcolm Martineau

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Beethoven: An die ferne Geliebte, Op.98 - Peter Schreier, Walter Olbertz

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Saint-Saens: Cello Suite Op.16 - Maria Kliegel, François Joël Thiollier

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Brahms:  Der Gang zum Liebchen, Op.31 No 3 - Chamber Choir of Europe

This is one of a set of three vocal ensemble songs Brahms wrote early in his time in Vienna. He also adapted it for piano duet, including it in his Waltzes Op.39. It is sung both by solo voices and by choirs. The opening bars, the linking passages and the coda as well as the words - omitted in the piano duet - make this version more special than the duet version, which is also usually played at a more flowing tempo.

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Schumann: Andante and Variations Op.46 - Martha Argerich, Nelson Freire

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Schönberg: Weihnachtsmusik

Schönberg's Weihnachtsmusik is one his many tonal works, written not only in his early years but throughout his life. In many ways it recalls both Brahms and Wagner, full of counterpoint and development, but intensely sensual. The melancholy brings it closer to Brahms, perhaps.

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Schumann/Debussy: Canonic Studies for Pedal Piano - Martha Argerich, Lilya Zilberstein

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Rilke: Die Stille (poem in German)

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Bach: Violin Sonata in G - Adolf Busch, Rudolf Serkin

This Violin Sonata by Bach is very brief, and only has a figured bass for the piano - what Rudolf Serkin is playing here is his own realisation. Busch's playing is of such tenderness and truth unmatched by any other recording I know. Intensely personal, but without any hint of sentimentality.

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Stravinsky: Scherzo a la Russe - CBS SO, cond. Stravinsky

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Brahms: In stiller Nacht - Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Gerald Moore

There are many great recordings of this song, taken from the 49 Folk Sings published at the end of Brahms's life. The slow, restrained tempo and the sad intensity of every word make this one of the greatest. Other wonderful recordings include two by Herman Prey, one solo and one adapted to a duet with Pamela Coburn.

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Ravel: Alborada del gracioso - Dinu Lipatti

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Brahms: Es steht ein Lind - Herman Prey, Karl Engel

This song is also taken from the 49 Folk Songs by Brahms. In its directness and simplicity it is related to the most tragic songs from Schubert's "Schöne Müllerin"; it also tells of a lost love, with nothing to embroider or explain the loss - no jealousy, betrayal, bitterness, just loss. It has only sadness.

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Rachmaninov: Suite No.1 for 2 pianos, 1st movement - Martha Argerich, Alexandre Rabinovich

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Bach: The Well Tempered Clavier, Part II - Samuel Feinberg

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Widmann: Geburtstagswalzer - Oliver Triendl

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Chopin: Concerto No.2 in F Minor, Op.21, 2nd Movement - Wilhelm Kempff, Karel Ancerl

Perhaps one of the most beautiful of Chopin recordings, by a pianist hardly associated with this composer. His almost complete absence of the usual rubato makes the movement feel like a lullaby, swaying with slow and gentle regularity.

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Suk: Písen lásky (Love Song) - Ivan Moravec

A piece well known in it's day, and still often played, a trifle oversweet perhaps but full of yearning, and with a fantastic surge of excitement in the middle section - just like it's subject matter, not very original, but with passion and commitment.

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Bach: Sarabande from Partita No.4 in D - Sergei Rachmaninov

Freedom, spontaneity, clarity - one of the greatest performances of Bach. What a tragedy there is no more...What should music be? A gesture, an exhalation, a moment in time expanded and indivisible, the flow of time suspended, the recognition of truth and humanity in sound. All these things are present here. It is the supreme example of the importance of the performer: Stravinsky once described the performer as a necessary evil, but however great Bach's composition is, it needs moments like this to reveal the truth it contains.

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Mendelssohn: 17 Lieder ohne Worte - Walter Gieseking

There are some recordings by Gieseking where he seems to be playing just next to you, in a small room, just for you. The sound has an immediacy, an emotional directness quite unique in quality. These Songs Without Words by Mendelssohn can often sound trite and predictable, but in these recordings, Gieseking plays with an intensity and concentration that makes every note of the melody seem vital and meaningful, as if he were speaking simple but profound truths. In my experience only Horowitz has achieved a similar rhetorical directness, but only by employing much more expressive modulation - Gieseking here plays quite simply, and speaks just as directly.

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Beethoven: Der Kuß - D.Fischer-Dieskau, Hartmut Höll

A late song by Beethoven, published individually, about a lover stealing a kiss from his beloved. Full of humour, especially the concluding phrase "..doch lange hinterher... (..but long afterwards...), repeated many times with increasing triumph and mischief by Beethoven, and beautifully timed by F-D.

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Schubert: Nähe des Geliebten - E. Schwarzkopf, Edwin Fischer

One of Schubert's most perfect songs, this simple setting of Goethe is in four stanzas, without any modifications, creating an air of simplicity and purity in the music. Nowhere else has the simplicity of missing someone been so unadulteratedly and clearly described, beyond passion and suffering, just the simple fact - I miss you. This recording is from that great collection of Schubert songs recorded by Schwarzkopf and Fischer, one of the most beautiful records of Schubert ever made.

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Wagner: Liebesduett from Tristan und Isolde - Flagstad, Suthaus, Furtwängler

Perhaps the most overtly sexual of any classical work, this is in effect an extended version of the more famous Liebestod, culminating in a dramatic coitus interruptus. Slow, sensuous longing opens the duet, a conversation gradually heating up, a gentle warning from the friendly Brangäne, then an ever closer dialogue with an ever more inescapable direction, more and more frequent exchanges, growing delight and hunger, the two voices in joint ecstasy, higher and higher, the orchestra in frenzied accompaniment, the moment of triumph,

Then disaster as the two are discovered....

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Schubert: An Meine Sonne, D 439 - EAYCC Graz

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Schumann: Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen - D. Fischer-Dieskau, V. Horowitz

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Improvisations on "Happy Birthday" by Gabriela Montera

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Beethoven: 6 Variations on "Ich denke Dein", WoO 74, nach Goethe - Jörg Demus, Norman Shetler

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Mozart/Busoni: Duettino Concertante, after K.459 - Emil Gilels, Yakov Zak

This miraculous recording from a young Gilels and slightly older Zak is so full of life, humour, energy and skill that it must be one of the greatest Mozart performances on record. Busoni's arrangement of this final movement from Mozart's Piano Concerto in F feels so perfectly matched and textured that it stands equally beside Mozart's original - no false bombast, no extra complications, just a wonderfully tight piano sound. It reminds one of the famous quote attributed to Busoni when faced with an orchestra playing Mozart in an all too heavy manner: "Schlanker, meine Herren!" (Slimmer, gentlemen!).

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Kapelle Josef Menzl - Zum Geburtstag viel Glück

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Shostakovich: Cello Sonata in D Minor, Op.40 - Daniil Shafran, Dmitri Shostakovich

A memory from long ago...of something unfinished...waiting for you...

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Schubert: Nähe der Geliebten - Augsburger Freundschaftschor

This little known choral version by Schubert sings of closeness from afar, of presence in the mind and senses, the reassurance of memory. There is a longing for physicality, for the memory to become flesh, but simultaneously the knowledge that a spiritual presence testifies to a deeper reality that will never disappear. Still.....a few words never did anyone any harm....

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Brahms: Wie bist du meine Königin - Hermann Prey / Leonard Hokanson

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Deine schönen braunen Augen - Original Naabtal Duo

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Arrivederci Roma - Claudio Villa

A classic for anyone visiting Rome. This version by the somewhat choirboy-sounding Claudio Villa is less flamboyant than the original Mario Lanza but has a beautiful intimacy, as if he were singing directly to you, recommending the beauties of Rome. It also has a wonderful accompaniment, orchestral sounds reminiscent of Nino Rota's scores for Fellini films. Enjoy the Eternal City!

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Bach: St Matthew's Passion - Willem Mengelberg, Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam, 1939

The ominous date of this performance, Palm Sunday 1939, would be enough to give weight to the recording. In the event it must be one of the most intense musical experiences on record: if there can be a musical portrayal of despair, anguish, lament - nothing can match this. You may object to the aged recording technique, you probably will object to the highly mannered and romantic performance style, but you cannot be in any doubt that a deep tragedy has occurred. Free yourself from trivial reservations, give yourself to the drama and hear what real human cataclysm sounds like.

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Szymanowski: Love Songs of Hafiz, Op.24 No 5 - Urszula Kryger

Der verliebete Ostwind


Ich Unglückseliger! Wer gibt mir Nachricht von meiner Liebsten? Zwar der Ostwind kam und raunte hastig Botschaft mir ins Ohr, doch raunte er so stammelnd und verwirrt, daß ich ihn nicht verstand! Ich weiß es wohl, Er selber ist der Ärmste, ganz betrunken und geisteswirr durch meiner Liebsten Schönheit.

 

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Joannis Raymond: Schreibe mir

The legendary folk singer Joannis Raymond at his most intense, urging his message across, leaving no doubt as to the genuine and unwavering nature of his feelings, expressed in simple but direct music. Pure Sehnsucht, as they say...

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Rolf Zuckowski: Wie schön, dass du geboren bist

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Vadim - Wollen - nach Erich Fried

Bei dir sein wollen / Mitten aus dem was man tut / weg sein wollen / bei dir verschwunden sein...

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Konstantin Wecker - Die weisse Rose

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Schumann: An die Sterne - Netherlands Chamber Choir

The most beautiful song ever - such a surprise, it has warmed my heart every minute since I heard it. A ray of sunshine!

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Schumann: Widmung, from Myrthen op 25

Du meine Sonne, du mein Herz,
Du meine Wonn', o du mein Schmerz...

One of Schumann's most devoted and devoting songs, Widmung - Liebeslied was addressed to Clara, his love and musical inspiration, without whom he would probably have achieved nothing. Here the original, sung by the warm and inimitable Hermann Prey, and the solo piano transcription by Liszt, played by the great Elisso Virssaladse.

https://youtu.be/BF-YV-hGLGM

https://youtu.be/Yyx2M8BjInI

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Chanson frei nach Erich Fried - Vadim?

Ich möchte dich lieben
tagaus und tagein.
Ich möchte dich trinken
dein Feinschmecker sein.
Deinen Körper erforschen,
ertasten, entdecken, bestaunen,
dein Kenner und Liebhaber
ewig werden und bleiben.

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Mahler: Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz, from "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen

Two versions, the first a choral transcription by the ensemble Accentus and the second by the baritone Hermann Prey under Vaclav Neuman.  A hypnotic song, powerful in its recall of the past, but clearly a past that is very alive and present. However distant this past may seem it is here with us, under every leaf of the Linden Tree, under every stone, every blade of grass, and will stay there.

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Du bist schön wie Musik · Vico Torriani

Du bist schön wie Musik
schenkst mir Glück wie Musik
denn an dir ist alles Klang und Harmonie

Jeder Kuss ist Musik
jeder Blick ist Musik
und mein Herz lauscht einer Liebesmelodie

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Du bist die Sonne meines Herzens - Die Albtalstreuner

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A guest performance by Mikhail Lezdkan and myself - 5 Songs by Brahms...

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Rainer Maria Rilke: Liebe auch

Liebe auch lässt sich den Wellen vergleichen,
Sehnsucht wälzt ihre Wogen zum Ziele,
flüchtendes Nahen, nahendes Weichen,
heiligster Ernst und doch schönstes der Spiele.

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Schubert/Goethe: Nähe der Geliebten - Matthias Goerne, Helmut Deutsch

Ich bin bei Dir, du seist auch noch so ferne,
Du bist mir nah,
Die Sonne sinkt, bald leuchten mir die Sterne,
O wärst Du da!

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Beethoven: Symphony No 9 – Furtwängler, Berlin 1942

Still one of the most intense and mysterious recordings of this magnificent work. Better not to have been involved in the concert though, given the circumstances. Better to be involved now, must be an overwhelming experience to play/sing in it. Wow!

Gratuliere! Wunderbar!

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Frei nach Erich Fried – Vadim

Manche könnten meinen
zwischen dir und mir
liegen viele Kilometer
doch sie hätten Unrecht

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Another guest appearance: Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto in A Minor, BH with Keld Ensemble, complete three movements:

Allegro

Adagio

Finale

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Schubert: Im Frühling - Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Edwin Fischer

One of Schubert's most tender songs in my favourite recording, somewhat free in tempo, wonderful colours from Edwin Fischer and an unexpected smile from Elisabeth Schwarzkopf at the end.

 

It is interesting to compare Schubert's view of lost love with Brahms: whereas Brahms is full of longing, Schubert seems to be relating something in the past, something finished, something leaving sadness that needs to be overcome - rather than something alive that can give happiness in itself. Release in Schubert comes as a result of acceptance, hence it becomes almost more sad than the melancholy that preceded it. Schubert comes across as alone, observing a world that brings suffering and that needs to be left behind. For this reason Schwarzkopf's recording here is so poignant: she introduces a surprising sense of playfulness in the final phrase, a moment of uncharacteristic relief that avoids the usual mourning and indicates that he/she might enjoy the "Lieb'", even with the "Leid".

 

Brahms in contrast seems happy with his longing, almost celebrating it. One senses that he would rather die longing than not to have loved at all. Works such as the slow movement of the 3rd Piano Sonata, or the song "Sonntag", even the late 2nd Clarinet Sonata, speak of a happiness to love, even when love remains unfulfilled, as it did in his case. There is perhaps no other composer whose music is so infused with this feeling of warmth and longing across so many genres, whether in vocal works, chamber, solo or symphonic. Which symphony is so clearly a love letter as Brahms's 2nd? Love gives beauty to life, is a gift, not to be overcome but to be appreciated, regardless of its fulfilment.

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Rudi Schuricke: Ich möchte ein Wunder erleben

"Ich träume so oft von Dir...."

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Mozart: Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön

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Shostakovich: Cello Sonata (excerpt) - from a recent recital...

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I'd be very happy to hear from you - even just a picture of a sun - perhaps you would like to suggest some music for me - sometimes music can say more than words.

contact@belahartmann.com

 

 


 


 

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