I’ve just returned from a long trip out of town, first back from my hometown in Delaware, and just this past week near Toledo, Ohio (Perrysburg, to be exact), visiting my old Eastman compatriot, and fellow record collector, Mike Gartz. Mike has as amazing a collection as does Ward Marston, and has an equal number of instrumental and orchestral rarities, both on 78 and Lp. Basically, I spent much of a week recording various goodies from Mike’s library, and over the next few months I’ll be preparing transfers and sharing them here! So, get ready for hours more of Paul van Kempen and Fritz Lehmann from 78s, Issay Dobrowen, Walter Rehberg, Friedrich Wührer, Alexander Goldenweiser (a complete Grieg Lyric Pieces set), some very interesting Czech piano recordings and much more. I’m greatly indebted to Mike for allowing me to overrun his place for nearly a week…actually, let’s ALL thank Mike!
First up, here is an extremely rare (first) recording of the Granados Danzas españolas. I know nothing about Cases, except that he was born in 1899, was also a composer (Odeon recorded a few works of his as well). Any biographical details would be most welcome. I’ve included a pdf file of the score, and followers of this will notice that there are numerous cuts to fit the works onto 10″ sides, although I’m not sure that all the pieces would have fit on 12″ sides either. The piano is not a great instrument, and apparently the budget didn’t include touch up tuning of this instrument. But, these quibbles aside, this is tremendously stylish playing! Cases is assured technically, clarity being an noticeable quality, and his control of timing and nuance is masterly. He certainly gets to the heart of the lyricism and dance elements and has a unique pride, almost a toughness about him. The control of rubato, sometimes rushing impulsively forward, sometimes creating space without ever losing the thread of the musical line is something unique to this version, in my opinion.
As a bonus, here is Louis Kentner’s recording of the Balakirev Sonata in B-flat Minor, another recording sponsored by the Maharaja of Mysore, who’s interest in unusual Russian piano repertory made possible Kentner’s recording of the Lyapunov Études d’exécution transcendante and various recordings by Nicolai Medtner.
Granados: Twelve Danzas españolas
Guillermo Cases, Piano
Odeon 196 298/303
(matr. CSO 8641/43, 8628, 8579, 8586/7, 8578, 8584/5)
Recorded late 20’s or early 30’s
Balakirev: Piano Sonata in B-flat Minor
Louis Kentner, Piano
Columbia LX 1407/9 (matr. CAX 10536/41)
Recorded June 2, 1949, London, EMI Studio No. 3, Abbey Road
Musical scores included as Pdf files.