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SIMON BARERE
Ukranian-born Russian pianist (1896 - 1951)



Simon Barere was an unguided missie.  When he hit his mark, the effect was explosive.  But when he was wild, one couldn't help but scratch one's head and wonder just what all the fuss was about. He studied piano with Anna Esipova, Theodor Leschetizky's second wife, and with Felix Blumenfeld who also taught, Vladimir Horowitz and Maria Yudina, among others.  He won the Anton Rubinstein Prize, and the composer Glazunov said of him, "Barere is Franz Liszt in one hand and Anton Rubinstein in the other."

I'll eschew participation in the classic Horowitz v Barere obsession.  Both had phenomenal technique. Each could do undoable things on the piano, often things that probably should not have been done from a musical standpoint. in terms of sheer beauty of playing, my vote goes to Horowitz.  For adrenaline inducing excitement, I'm a Barere man.  But both suffered from a fatal flaw, each at opposite ends of the same bell-shaped curve.  Vladimir Horowitz often could not see the forest for the trees.  Simon Barere so often seemed to have little use for the trees.  Both all too often forced the listener to focus on their playing and subjugated the music to a secondary role.  But history shows us that this is what creates mass following.

This being said, there are some marvelous performances here.  The Liszt concerto is splendidly and beautifully played, as are the recordings of the Schumann toccata and Islamey in which Simon Barere's remarkable dexterity is particularly well used.  And I like very much his views on the Bach BWV 903 and the Chopin Op 39 Scherzo and Op 42 waltz.

But he misses the mark entirely in rushing through the outer sections of the first impromptu.  The Beethoven Op 110 is bizarre, and the Scarlatti sonata (both on the Simon Barere Plays Chopin page) is not, in my opinion, worth hearing at all.

Simon Barere's Schumann is a mixed bag, but on the whole, I find myself liking it after an initially negative reaction.  Schumann is both Florestan and Eusebius, and Barere is Florestan personified.  The result, while uneven is pleasing to me.

Liszt and Rachmaninoff seem to fare most consistently well at the hands of Simon Barere.  Perhaps it is the liberal seasoning of passages of supreme virtuosity that allows the pianist ample opportunity for pyrotechnical display and enables him to resist his need for speed when it is not warranted.



Liszt  Sonetto del Petrarca 104




Liszt  Paganini Etude 3 "La Campanella"




Liszt  Trois Études de Concert in D major, S 144  


2 "La leggierezza"



3 "Un Sospiro" (rec 1947)




Liszt  "Gnomenreigen" from Deux Études de Concert, S 145

[six versions by Barere]

STUDIO 1929 ODEON
02:33 ➢ STUDIO 1934 HMV
05:10 ➢ STUDIO (DATE UNKNOWN)
07:46 ➢ LIVE CARNEGIE HALL 1946
10:31 ➢ LIVE CARNEGIE HALL 1949
13:16 ➢ STUDIO 1951 REMINGTON




Liszt  "Gnomenreigen" from Deux Études de Concert, S 145

recorded in 1950




Liszt  Liebstraume 3




Liszt  Valse Oubliée 1 in F major




Gounod-Liszt  Waltz from 'Faust'

recorded in 1946




Liszt  Hungarian Rhapsody 12




Liszt  Spanish Rhapsody

recorded in 1934


(beginning)



(conclusion)




Liszt  7 "Funérailles" from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses

recorded live in 1947




Liszt  Piano Sonata in B minor

recorded live in 1947




Liszt-Mozart  Don Juan Fantasy


recorded in 1936



and sometime later, ca1950?




Liszt-Bellini  "Réminiscences de Don Juan"

recorded in 1936




Liszt  Piano Concerto 1 in E major
David Brockman conducting the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra

i Allegro maestoso
04:55ii Quasi adagio
08:58 iii Allegretto vivace. Allegro animato
12:22 iv Allegro marziale animato

recorded live in 1946




Balakirev  "islamey"




Blumenfeld  Étude for the left hand alone

recorded live




Glazunov  Etude, Op 31~1

recorded live in 1946




Scriabin Etude in D minor Op 8~12




Rachmaninoff  Polka de W. R

recorded in 1929




Rachmaninoff  Prelude, Op 23~5

recorded live




Rachmaninoff  Prelude, Op 32~12




Rachmaninoff  Piano Concerto 2 in C minor, Op 18 (1901)
unidentified conductor and orchestra

recorded ca1944


ii Adagio sostenuto


iii Allegro scherzando (beginning)



iii Allegro scherzando (conclusion)










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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