Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tamás Vásáry Plays Chopin

This is my Tuesday Blog from May 12, 2015.

Pianist Tamás Vásáry, like his colleagues Vladimir Ashkenazy and Christoph Eschenbach (only to name those two) is less and less heard on the instrument where he made his mark in the 1960’s, and is more known as a conductor.

Born in Hungary, Vásáry made his stage debut at the age of 8, performing Mozart's Piano Concerto in D major, K.107 and giving a solo recital the following year. He then began to concertize regularly as a child prodigy; it was at this time that he was introduced to Ernő Dohnányi, the leading figure of musical life in Hungary, who made a unique exception by offering to accept the gifted youth as a pupil in spite of his age. Vásáry also studied with József Gát and Lajos Hernádi at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, and was later assistant there to Zoltán Kodály. At the age of 14 Vásáry won first prize in the Franz Liszt competition at the Academy of Music in Budapest, in 1947. He left Hungary in 1956 and settled in Switzerland. He made his débuts in the major cities of the West in 1960 and 1961 and during the 1960’s made many recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, particularly of the Romantic repertoire, especially Frédéric ChopinFranz Liszt and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Chopin wrote four Sonatas: three for piano solo and one for piano and cello and today’s vinyl selection comes from the DG Chopin recordings Vásáry made in the mid-sixties, featuting him in the two most heard Chopin piano sonatas, nos. 2 and 3.

Chopin composed his Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35 ("Funeral March") mainly in 1839 at Nohant near Chateauroux in France, although the funeral march third movement had been composed as early as 1837. The Sonata confused contemporary critics which can be traced to Schumann's remark that Chopin had here yoked together four of his maddest children under the same roof.

We could say, in Chopin’s defense, that the traditional Sonata form of A-B-A is in fact a very Germanish tradition and plays a relatively minor role in the development of music in France, Italy, Spain, Russia and much of the eastern Europe, which are truly the traditions that most influenced him. As his last sonata for solo piano, it has been suggested that the Sonata no. 3 was Chopin’s attempt at addressing the criticisms of his earlier Sonata No. 2. Along with the previous sonata, this is considered to be one of Chopin's most difficult compositions, both technically and musically.

Happy listening!

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Piano Sonata No. 2 In B Flat Minor, Op. 35
Piano Sonata No. 3 In B Minor, Op. 58
Piano – Tamas Vasary
Deutsche Grammophon Resonance ‎– 2535 230
Format: Vinyl, LP Stereo (1966) Reissue (1977)

YouTube URL: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...PHtr2Kjm0qp2MZ

Internet Archive URL - https://archive.org/details/05PianoSonataNo.3InBMinorOp