Walter Rehberg. Polydor Recordings (nearly complete)

I have been working for some time to assemble a complete set of the recordings by Swiss pianist Walter Rehberg (1900-57), and while I’m still about six records short of that goal, this collection is the result of quite a few years of searching and mining the collections of my good friends Ward Marston and Mike Gartz. There is not a single modern reissue devoted to Rehberg, sadly, although he is represented by a track in Naxos’ A to Z of Pianists (a brief biography from that set is viewable here, so rather than summarize the article I’ll just point you in towards it).

I had known a few of Rehberg’s recordings previously, but what really sparked my interest in his legacy was when Ward first played me one of the recordings make on the Jankó piano, which, he assured me was played by a single, two-handed pianist. My jaw then dropped to the floor, as the capabilities of this unique instrument were wonderfully brought out by the works Rehberg wrote for it. More about Paul von Jankó and this instrument of his can be found here. The keyboard layout that enables such music to be written for a solo player is actually the system sometimes used on accordions, consisting of different manuals set up in whole steps, and then the adjacent levels a half step off from its neighbors, and then displaced by an octave on yet other levels. One picture of an upright model may be seen here. Here is an example of a grand model:

Needless to say, the Jankó keyboard has faded into the history books, and these may be the only recordings ever made on one. A bit more information about its fate can be read here.

Rehberg’s recorded legacy is perhaps an uneven one in some respects, but there is always a wonderful musical imagination at work, which to my ears is especially engaged in his Liszt recordings. The acoustic Mephisto Waltz is an absolute marvel: it seems to be his own version, which is based more on the variants in the orchestral version of the work than Liszt’s own piano version. And what he manages to achieve with such aplomb, control and virtuosity puts it at the very top of Liszt on record, in my opinion! The rarely heard “Ave Maria” is a gorgeous example of Rehberg’s mastery of tone color and legato, and both versions of the Spanish Rhapsody find interest in the work that I had not expected to find.

At times, there is a slapdash element to his playing. After hearing the well played acoustical Brahms Waltz disc, I was surprised to hear the electrical remake (it consists of a slightly different selection of the Waltzes), which definitely could have used a retake or two! The Schumann Fantasy was recorded twice in fairly close proximity, as the first version was made by the transitional “beam of light” method, which sounds a bit like an electrical recording made with an acoustical horn pickup. Rehberg definitely has an affinity for the work. Oddly, the Schubert Wander Fantasie, while played with infectious energy and much incidental beauty, also has numerous textural changes, a few cuts, and quite a few clinkers. I still think it wears very well.

A note to those who may have downloaded my previous two cds of Rehberg, I have left Vol. 2 exactly as before, but felt I should unite the Jankó records, so Vol. 1, while much the same has these additional records, and the Brahms Waltz record added to it. Volumes 3 and 4 consist entirely of new material. Much, but not all of this new material was transfered by Ward Marston, but with side joins done by myself. Thanks again to Ward and Mike for making this collection possible! Also, thanks to John Bergeron, who pointed me in the direction of the information on Rehberg, and the Jankó piano that I have linked to. Quite incidentally, and showing what a small world it is, John’s son studies violin in Berlin with Leonard Rehberg, Walter’s nephew!

Volume 1:
Rehberg: Fantasien über ein Thema von Verdi:

1. Thema, 2. Scherzo

3. Idylle

4. Marche grotesque

5. Elegie, 6. Valse

Polydor 24996, 25063 (rec. 1932, matr. 3351/54 BH 8)

Rehberg: Tanzstudien: in B minor, in G Major
(for the Jankó-Klavier)

Polydor 25195 (rec. 1932, matr. 3349/50 BH 8)

(tracks 1-6 performed on the

Jankó-Pfeiffer-Flügel, Stuttgart)

Schubert Moments Musicaux No. 3 in f
Schubert Impromptu in G, Op. 90,3

Polydor 95072

Weber: Invitation to the Dance
Polydor 47131

Brahms: Eight Waltzes from Op. 39
Polydor 25192 (rec. 1933, matr. 5224/45 BD 8)

Brahms: Rhapsody in B minor, Op. 79, No. 1
Polydor 90016 (rec. 1928, matr. 1420/21 bk)

Chopin: Polonaise-fantasie in Ab Major, Op. 61
Liszt: Eclogue (Années de Pèlerinage, I, No. 7)

Polydor 25137/38 (rec. 1933, matr. 5220/3, BD3)

Gounod-Liszt: Faust Walzer
Polydor 95046 (rec. 1928, matr. 667/8 bm)

Strauss-Bass: Frühlingsstimmen-Walzer
Polydor 23737 (rec. 1930, matr. 2672/3 BH)

Strauss-Grunfeld: Soirée de Vienne
Polydor 23745 (rec. 1930, matr. 2570/1 BH)

Volume 2:
Schumann: Fantasie in C, Op. 17

Liszt: Consolation #3 in Db

Polydor 95039/42 (rec. 1928, matr. 683/88 bm)

Schubert: Wanderer Fantasie
Schubert: Menuett from Sonata in G, D. 894

Polydor 95047/9 (rec. 1927, matr. 669/73 bm)

Grieg: Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, Op. 65, No. 6
Sinding: Frühlingsrauschen
, Op. 32, No. 3
Polydor 24989 (matr. 3355/6 1/2 BH8)

Liszt: Rhapsodie Espagnole
Liszt: Sonetto 104 del Petrarca

London LA 135 (rec. c.1950, T 5311/2)

Volume 3: (Acoustical recordings)
Liszt: Mephisto Waltz

Polydor 66181 (matr. 753/54 az)

Liszt: Funérailles (from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses)
Polydor 66183 (matr. 751/52 az)

Haydn Sonata in G major, Hob. XVI/40
1. Allegretto innocente

2. Presto

Polydor 66182 (matr. 757/78 az)

Mendelssohn: From the “Lieder ohne Worte”
Andante con moto, Op. 19, No. 1

, Op. 62, No. 6
Spinnerlied, Op. 67, No. 4

Jägerlied, Op. 19, No. 3

Venetianisches Gondelied, Op. 30, No. 6

Polydor 66185, 62528 (matr. 1097/98 av, 1964/65 at)

Brahms: Eight Waltzes from Op. 39
Polydor ?(matr. 756/77 az)

Sinding: Frühlingsrauschen Op. 32, No. 3
Grieg: Hochzeitstag auf Troldhaugen Op. 65, No. 6

Polydor 66378 (matr. 64/65 bg)
(“beam of light” recording)

Volume 4:
Liszt: Ave Maria (G. 95)

Polydor 95043 (rec. 1928, matr. 659/60 bm)

Liszt: Rhapsodie Espagnole
Liszt: Sonetto del Petrarca No. 104

Polydor 95044/45 (rec. 1928, matr. 661/62, 665/66 bm)

Grieg: Til våren (To Spring), Op. 43, No. 6
Frühlingslied, Op. 62, No. 6
Rachmaninoff: Prelude in C# minor, Op. 3, No. 2

Polydor 27229 (matr. 1080/81 BI)

Schubert: Impromptu in Ab, Op. 90, No. 4
Schubert: Impromptu in G, Op. 90, No. 3

Polydor 57090 (rec. 1937, matr. 703 1/2, 702 1/2 GS 8)

Liszt Consolation No. 3 in Db
Schumann Fantasie in C, Op. 17

Polydor 66562/65 (matr. 66, 67, 68, 65, 70/73 bg)

(“beam of light” recording)


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3 Responses to Walter Rehberg. Polydor Recordings (nearly complete)

  1. taoman12 says:

    Dear Neal, could you please re-upload Vol.3 of Rehberg, if this is not too troublesome? This amazing pianist’s recordings fascinate me to no end! And I owe this wonderful discovery to you and your excellent blog! Cordially thank you for your noble efforts and the highest quality of your work here!

    Andrei (Toronto)

  2. alf says:

    Hi Neal, thank you for the upload. Vol 2 Part 1 is not listed in the mediafire page…

  3. tatifan says:

    Should be up there now…I started the upload with part 2. Looks like all 4 parts are in the folder now. I have a few more Rehberg sides to upload very soon too!

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