Search - Ignace Jan Paderewski, Adolf Schulz-Evler, Camille Saint-Saens :: Welte-Mignon Piano Rolls, 1905-1927

Welte-Mignon Piano Rolls, 1905-1927
Ignace Jan Paderewski, Adolf Schulz-Evler, Camille Saint-Saens
Welte-Mignon Piano Rolls, 1905-1927
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Special Interest, Classical
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1


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CD Reviews

How Some of the Greats Played (Almost)
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 09/04/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Periodically recordings like this surface--transfers from the Welte-Mignon piano rolls recorded early in the last century (mostly from around 1905; Horowitz in the 1920s). Similar to the more familiar piano rolls that were the 'software' for the ubiquitous player piano of old, the Welte-Mignon rolls used a very different mechanism and it is generally agreed that they did a better job of preserving the dynamic, tempo, rhythmic and touch nuances of the pianists who recorded them. Here we have what is labeled Volume I of what presumably will be a series coming to us the Naxos label. They are recorded on a restored Steinway-Welte reproducing piano that has come down in the family of this series' producer, Richard Simonton jr. And the list of famous pianists recorded here is pretty impressive: Paderewski, Lhevinne, Saint-Saëns, Hofmann, Gieseking, Ganz, Egon Petri and Horowitz, as well as some lesser-known artists like Alfred Grünfeld, Télémaque Lambrino, Hans Haass and Yolanda Mero.The sound is, of course, modern because the reproducing pianos were recorded in 2000 with modern sound equipment. The primary drawback of these piano rolls is that they, though more lifelike than the old Aeolian piano rolls, do sound just the slightest bit mechanical. Still, one gets a good idea of how many of these pianists--some of them never recorded in modern sound otherwise--must have sounded in their prime. One notes, for instance, a very great use of rubato by such stars as Paderewski and Hofmann. It was certainly true that those old guys had personality!Presumably Amazon will soon list the contents of this CD on this page --although they haven't done so yet--but suffice it to say that some outstanding selections are Paderewski playing his own 'Minuet,' Lhevinne playing the Strauss/Schulz/Evler 'Blue Danube,' Gieseking playing 'Ondine' from Ravel's 'Gaspard de la nuit,' and Hofmann playing the F-sharp minor 'Polonaise' of Chopin (a wonderful performance). One novelty is Rudolph Ganz playing a delightful Saint-Saëns arrangement of the familiar Andante from Haydn's 'Surprise' Symphony, something I'd never heard before. Another rarity is Hans Haass playing a Rameau minuet as arranged by Leopold Godowsky. We also get Horowitz playing his own 'Carmen Fantasy,' a crowd-pleaser that he recorded later more than once in the 'electric' era of recording. This performance, however, is a barn-burner and I frankly couldn't tell that it was from a piano roll. So, if this is your meat, go for it. At this price, you can hardly miss.Scott Morrison"
Mechanical Indeed
John Atherton | CINCINNATI, OHIO United States | 10/03/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Many critics dismiss piano rolls and, sadly, this album will persuade new listeners that they must sound clangorous and mechanical. This we know is not true. Wayne Stahnke did an outstanding job with his Rachmaninoff discs. Granted, he used computer reconstruction, but Kenneth Caswell, on the small Pierian label, did not, and his Granados and Debussy albums are uncannily realistic. The latter impressed even Charles Timbrell, an expert on French pianists. Equally musical is a more varied collection on the Phonographe label, which seems to include recordings made many years ago. Perhaps the piano used did not have to be "restored" but had been kept in good condition -- but I'm just guessing. In any event, this Naxos album is, unfortunately, a thumping failure."