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ALBENIZ-GODOWSKY TANGO
in D major, Op 165~2 from España



I start with the Novaes recording of the Albeniz-Godowsky Tango because she is the only one of the following pianists who truly understands the essence of this music.  It might be odd to say this in as much as Godowsky has contributed mightily to expounding on it in a way that captures and intensifies the soul of the music.  But he and his european colleagues - oh, bite my tongue - can't play it.

Don't get me wrong.  Of course they can play it.  Especially Cherkassky and Backhaus who make gorgeous music out of it.  And of course, the Godowsky performance has the all the authority of being by the creator and one of the master pianists of the ages.  But where are the languid sexuality, the caressing movement of the air over the skin, the wisps of cigarette smoke, the sense that time has ceased to be relevant to this or any other moment?

Cherkassky comes close in his rendition.  There are moments when he capture the essence.  Then the pianist takes over and the moment passes.  Kyriakou's performance is deliciously exciting, and represents what is probably a more accurate approach to the dance that is the tango, but the music of this particular tango has been blessed by winds from the south which cannot, must not, be denied.

Two performances of the Albeniz-Godowsky Tango that are very close to my heart are those of two of the greatest women pianists of the 20th century, Eileen Joyce and Dame Moura Lympany.  Like Novaes, they can do no wrong.  Unlike Novaes, they are not Brazilian and Cachaça does not run in her veins.  Their performances are near perfection.

There are other performances by lesser luminaries, beautifully played, but often quite missing the mark.  The 2012 Gramophone Young Artist of the Year  winner, Benjamin Grosvenor, has impressive skill and in his 2012 performance comes very near to the mood, but his 2013 performance is, well, slick ...  



GUIOMAR NOVAES (1895 - 1979)
Brazilian pianist

recorded in 1927




LEOPOLD GODOWSKY (1870 - 1938)
Polish-American pianist

recorded in 1920




WILHELM BACKHAUS (1884 - 1969)
German pianist

recorded in 1928




LEV POUISHNOFF (1891 - 1959)
Ukrainian-born pianist

ca 1920 piano roll




EILEEN JOYCE (1908 - 1991)
Australian pianist

recorded in 1952


 


SHURA CHERKASSKY (1909 - 1995)
Ukranian-born American pianist


recorded in the 1970s


 


Dame MOURA LYMPANY (1916 - 2005)
British pianist

recorded in 1952




RENA KYRIAKOU (1917 - 1994)
Greek pianist

recorded in the early 1950s




DMITRY PAPERNO (b 1929)
Ukranian Soviet pianist

recorded in the early 1950s




JOUNI SOMERO (b 1963)
Finnish pianist

recorded in 1993




BENJAMIN GROSVENOR (b 1992)
British pianist


recorded in 2012



and again in 2013




And here is the original Tango in D major, Op 165~2 by Albeniz, performed beautifully by Gonzalo Soriano, Alicia de Larrocha, Vladimir Valdivia, and the great Oscar Levant.  The more I listen to the first versions, the more I tend to prefer the original.



OSCAR LEVANT (1906 - 1972)
American pianist

recorded ca1958




GONZALO SORIANO
Spanish pianist (1913 - 1972)

recorded in 1957




ALICIA DE LARROCHA (1923 - 2009)
Spanish-Catalan pianist




VLADIMIR VALDIVIA (b 1970)
Peruvian pianist










For those of you who enjoy murder mysteries, here is my first with a strong musical polemic as background

Murder in the House of the Muse

which is also available as an audiobook.



And this is the more recently published second mystery in the series:

Murder Follows the Muse



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