Lubka Kolessa was a brilliant pianist. Originally from the Ukraine, she lived in Vienna and eventually settles in Canada where she taought at the Major conservatories in Ontario and Quebec.
She received her early training from her grandmother, a pianist and grandpupil of Chopin via Karol Mikuli, and completed her training with Emil von Sauer in Vienna.
As was the case with so many pianists of her generation, her style was idiosyncratic and very personal. Given her formation, her technical capabilities are beyond reproach. At the same time, one would expect her Chopin to be quite authentic. To my ear, however, her Chopin is not stylistically satisfying and all the less so when her own personality is inserted.
It is rather in the Germanic school that she soars. It is in her playing of Schumann and Brahms, as can be heard in the few accompanying examples, that her eccentricities take flight from essences of this music rarely captured in recordings. Here I am at a loss to describe what is undoubtedly a very subjective reaction, but it is as though Lubka Kolessa has discovered living things in the music and encouraged them to grow as she plays. In the recording of the Brahms variations and in the Schumann etudes, neither of which one is likely to choose to illustrate the Romantic nature of either composer, her touch turns to blooming flowers, almost as Peter Max did in his pop art of the late 1960s, only much more delicately, subtly, and beautifully. Let me know if you hear what I hear.
Brahms Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Händel, Op 24
recorded c 1949
Schumann Études Symphoniques, Op 13
recorded in 1949
Schumann Toccata, Op 7
recorded in 1949
Chopin Mazurka in G♯ minor, Op 33 ~1
(This followed by other wonderful women pianists playing other pieces for the piano, but for the purposes of this page, and as there is so little of Lubka Kolessa's playing available to us, I include it here.)
Chopin Waltz in A♭ major, Op 42
recorded in the 1930s
Hummel Rondo in E♭ major, Op 11
recorded in 1939
Mozart Variations on a Theme by Gluck, K 455
recorded in 1938
For those of you who enjoy murder mysteries, here is my first with a strong musical polemic as background
which is also available as an audiobook.
And this is the more recently published second mystery in the series:
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