casals and 3 unknown masters

It’s getting on to 7:30 local time so I thought I should get blogging. I read in Conversation with Casals yesterday poolside while my grandson and one of my granddaughters participating in their swimming lessons.

Since it’s a transcribed interview the voice of the elderly Casals comes through pretty clearly.

It’s a lively discussion with many stories and enlightening comments from the Maestro.

I knew the story of Toscanini’s famous ability to record orchestra pieces without varying from recording to recording in the amount of time the movement took.

I admired Casals comment on it:

“I don’t understand what conclusion should be drawn from this [fact]… Toscanini, like all great artists, does not lack in creative fantasy. And since a musical work does not always appear to the artist in exactly the same way, without the slightest differences, it follows that a great interpreter can be carried away by some inspiration of the moment, where the idea of the stop-watch has no place at all.”

Throughout the text Casals mentions composers he has known and whose work he admired. Several of them were unknown to me. In fact one chapter of the interviews is entitled “Three Unknown Masters.”

The three are

Julius Engelbert Röntgen (9 May 1855 – 13 September 1932)
Sir Donald Francis Tovey (17 July 1875 – 10 July 1940
Emanuel Moór - 1863 - 1931

This morning I poked around on and Naxos and found scores and recordings by all three. Röntgen seems to me at first hearing to be in the Romantic tradition. Wikipedia says he was influenced by Schumann, Liszt and Brahms. Certainly in the piano trio movement (from No. 10 in A Major)  I listened to today one could hear wifts of Schumann and Brahms.

Unfortunately the piano trio (no. 1 in B minor, Opus 1) by Tovey  I listened to did not keep my attention very long and I moved on to Moor. I now feel that I should give Tovey more tries since I didn’t realizing I was listening to his first opus. A first opus often shows glimmers of where the composer ends up,but usually also has some apprentice aspects that the composer will abandon in his or her mature voice.

Moor seemed to have more immediately attractive musical ideas than Röntgen. Although I did get sucked in to Röntgen’s beautiful slow second movement of his piano trio. I listened to a cello sonata movement by Moor (Sonata 2, Op. 55) and it was quite nice. It was a theme and variations. Unmarked as so. I thought it curious that the cellist took several passages down out of the very high range Moor had written them or at least as was notated in the score available online. Maybe that’s a usual cello thing. Or the performer had a reason to do so.

I believe all three composers wrote pieces for Casals.


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