Backhaus: Beethoven Piano Sonatas Nos. 31 & 32 - Decca BLK 16107 (sealed)
Jacket EX / LP MINT (sealed)
This fine LP – a still-sealed copy – from Decca (BLK 16107, German Teldec-Telefunken-Decca pressing, presumably blue label – definitely later pressing, mono) features legendary pianist Wilhlem Backhaus in two truly magnificent Beethoven performances, playing of unvarnished grandeur and profound poetry.
Backhaus brings a lifetime's wisdom and experience to these scores, and he is provided superlative sound by Decca’s unrivaled sound team.
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major Op. 110
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor Op. 111
Both performances were recorded in the rich acoustics of Victoria Hall, Geneva, in November 1953 (producer: Victor Olof / engineer: Gil Went).
Backhaus and the Beethoven Piano Sonatas:
Of his triumphant 1954 Carnegie Hall Beethoven recital, the eminent critic Olin Downes wrote in the New York Times: “The recital given by Wilhelm Backhaus last night in Carnegie Hall, after a twenty-eight year absence, must be ranked as one of the greatest evenings of the interpretation of Beethoven’s piano music heard here in as long a period. The atmosphere of the occasion, the size of the audience that packed the auditorium and the absorbed attention to the music were extraordinary testimony to Mr. Backhaus’ quality as a musician today….We may consider ourselves privileged that last night we listened to Mr. Backhaus, sitting so simply, so absorbed, at his instrument, playing Beethoven.”
The pianist Andor Foldes once remarked that Backhaus in concert was the same as Backhaus in the studio, a compliment to the solidity of his technique and concentration. In recent years, a number of Backhaus’ broadcast recitals have seen release on such labels as Tahra, Orfeo d’Or, and Medici Arts, but none are quite so commanding as the performances heard here, which are the stuff of legend.
Incidentally, the striking cover portrait of Beethoven is that done in 1814 by Louis Letronne. There are fine liner notes (uncredited) on the reverse side of the jacket, printed in German only.