Walter Rummel was a fascinating man. Both of his parents were pianists, no surprises there. His father was a successful British concert pianist, his mother, née Morse, was a fine amateur pianist and the daughter of the American Samuel Morse, respected painter, inventor of the telegraph and developer of Morse Code. But anglophone though he may have been, Walter was born and raised in Berlin where he studied with Leopold Godowsky.
He decided to move to Paris in his early twenties after rejecting an invitation from Paderewski to come and study with that pianistic legend, and there met Debussy with whom he became close friends and for whose music he was a passionate advocate.
It must have been wonderfully interesting and exciting to be Walter Rummel. He was a very successful concert pianist in his own right, and a sought after soloist playing often with leading conductors such as Felix Weingartner, Henry Wood, Paul Paray, and André Cluytens. He was also a composer of note. His songswere performed by some of the great singers of his time, not least of whom included Maggie Teyte, Marian Anderson, and John McCormack. He was cultured and literary and could name among his friends
Ezra Pound, George Bernard Shaw, and William Butler Yeats, and Queen Elisabeth and King Leopold III of Belgium (the same Leopold my late brother in law, a Belgian baron and WWII resistance leader helped to depose after the war for being a bit too chummy with the enemy). And he was for several years romantically involved with Isadora Duncan. My envy has resulted in my taking on a greenish tinge.
His performance of the Brahms waltz is particularly endearing, his first Liszt Legend a tone painting. His Chopin "Minute" Waltz is one of the best I've heard. He's not trying to play it as close to a minute in length as he can, and it dances. And the delicacy of the Arcadelt-Liszt "Ave Maria" is thrilling.
But Walter Rummel's playing can border on the perfunctory at times as in the Bach chorale and the Chopin Op25~7 étude. I use the term "border on"because he never goes over the border, always staying on the right side of taste and elegance. But it is difficult to believe that the man who played the waltz, especially the middle section which is so delicious it hurts, and the lullaby is the same man who played the aforementioned chorale and étude. And his performance of his transcription from the Christmas Oratorio sparkles, so it's not a Bach thing.
In the case of the Chopin Mazurka, we have an interesting comparison which the great English pianist Solomon wins hands down. The others get hung up in the trills, making too much of hem and distorting the rhythm. I guess Rummel comes in second for his tempo.
Jacques Arcadelt (1507-1568) - Liszt "Ave Maria"
recorded in 1942
Bach-Rummel "Mortify us by thy grace"
recorded in 1948
Bach-Rummel "Von Himmel hoch komm' ich her"
from the Christmas Oratorio
recorded in 1930
Chopin Étude in C♯ minor, Op 25~7
recorded in 1924
Chopin Mazurka in A minor, Op 68~2
02:22 ➢ Walter Rummel
04:46 ➢ Witold Malcuzinsky
07:30 ➢ Alexander Uninsky
6 in D♭ major, Op 64~1
7 in C♯ minor, Op 64~2
recorded in 1943
1 "St. Francis of Assisi Preaching to the Birds"
recorded live in 1944
2 "St. Francis of Paola Walking on the Waves"
recorded in 1948
Liszt Liestraume 3 in A♭ major
recorded in 1942
Brahms Waltz in A♭ major, Op 39~15
recorded in 1931
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:
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