The fact that Arthur de Greef was a student of Franz Liszt in the 1870s and 80's should be ample reason for anyone to want to hear him play the piano, as is the fact that Edvard Grieg considered him the premier performer of Grieg's own piano music. We are fortunate indeed that de Greef lived well into the age of recorded music. He made recordings of the music of both Liszt and Grieg, and while the quality of the recorded sound is not very good by today's standards, the value of these treasures is incomparable. De Greef's recording of the Grieg A Minor Piano Concerto was the first complete recording of the work. Given that de Greef had long worked with Grieg on the concerto, it is a significant historical milestone.
Also of interest is his work with Camille Saint-Saens with whom he Studied after the death of Liszt. His two recordings of the G minor piano concerto (Opus 22) are particularly interesting from the standpoint of authenticity although certainly by the 1920s de Greef's performance style had gained some of the elasticity of the early 20th century as compared to
Saint-Saens' own unique recording of an abridged first movement of the G Minor Concerto
which is in the late 19th Century style.
Arthur De Greef's recordings of three concerted works by Franz Liszt, the E flat and A Major Piano Concerti and the Hungarian Fantasy, are also significant historical documents. These recordings can be found on the
de Greef plays concerti
page. As far as we know, only two pianists who studied with Liszt have recorded the concerto,
Emil von Sauer
being the other.
De Greef's early studies were under Louis Brassin at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. Brassin had been a student of Ignaz Moscheles, one of the great piano virtuosi of the 1820s.
De Greef began to compose in his thirties and numbers
two piano concerti
among his works (these have been recorded by the pianist Andre de Groote for the Marco Polo label), but it is as a great pianist of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries that he is known.
The examples below of Arthur De Greef's solo playing provide considerable insight into his manner and style of playing. These performances show a different side of the pianist. Here he is not interacting with an orchestra. Rather we are able to hear him one-on-one with the music. We get a much better sense of his line and attention to detail. There are some lovely subtleties in his playing which is largely without exaggeration.
It is also possible to hear the difference in his overall approach to the composers represented below. The tonal quality and articulation are really quite different.
Chopin Waltz 1 in E flat Major, Op.18 Recorded in 1926
Chopin Waltz in D flat Major, Op. 64 N° 1 "Minute" Recorded in 1927
Chopin Waltz in G flat Major, Op 70 N° 1 Recorded in 1927
Chopin Nocturne in F sharp Major Op 15 n2 Recorded in 1925
Chopin Piano Sonata 2 in b flat minor Op 35 Recorded in 1925/26
i Grave - Doppio Movimento
iii Marche funèbre: Lento iv Finale: Presto
Schumann Carnaval de Vienne Op 26, Finale Recorded in 1918
Schumann Arabesque Op 18 Recorded in 1918
Grieg "Arietta" Op 12 n1 Recorded in 1929
Grieg "Album Leaf" Op 28 n3 Recorded in 1929
Grieg "Butterfly" Op 43 n1 Recorded in 1929
Grieg "To Spring" Op 43 n6 Recorded in 1929
Grieg "March of the Dwarves" Op 54 n3 Recorded in 1920
Grieg "Wedding Day at Troldhaugen" Op 65 n6 Recorded in 1929
Grieg "Puck" Op 71 n3 Recorded in 1922
Schubert/Liszt Soiree de Vienne No 6Recorded in 1927
Liszt Polonaise 2 in E Major Recorded in 1927
Moszkowski Etude in G Major Op 18 n3 Recorded in 1927
Sincere thanks to d60944 and Beckmesser2 for making these treasures available on YouTube.
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