Andor Foldes. Vox recordings of Bartók and Mozart

Pianist Andor Foldes (1913-1992) was closely associated with the music of Béla Bartók, and indeed he studied with the composer, as well as Ernő Dohnányi. DG recorded the complete solo piano works of Bartók in the middle 1950s on 4 Lps, which were reissued in 1981, but have only been granted a single Cd reissue selected from this set. These are earlier recordings issued by Vox. The Second Concerto was given its New York premiere by Foldes in 1947, and was recorded several years later. Vox also issued a c. 1950 version of the Piano Sonata, but I don’t have this record. The concerted works have appeared on at least one Cd issue, but seems to be OOP and difficult to locate. It was a challenge to work with this Vox lp of the concerto, which has migrating pitch issues, as well as a whopping pitch change between sides (it seems to be a 78rpm dubbing) in the first movement (the whole thing is over 5% sharp at times!). It also has a severe rumble problem. I think I’ve compensated for as many defects as I can, but hi-fi, it’s not! One thing I could not compensate for is the how flat the orchestra tunes to the piano in the first movement of the Mozart K. 595!

Foldes’ performances are sharply etched, and like Bartók’s performing style is rather economical in many respects, but unlike Bartók, he is a bit less rhapsodic in rhythmical nuance. He does share an welcome aversion to the pounding that is sometimes considered appropriate in this repertory…which always makes me think of Bartók’s supposed admonition to a student: “Please don’t play it in such a Bartókian manner”!!

The Mozart performances are taken from the copies, with some minor hum removal, a bit of pitch adjustment, so thanks to those who produced those dubs. Sorry, the second movement of K. 595 has some source defects that I couldn’t remove.

Bartók: 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs
Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 1
Roger Désormière, conductor
Orchestre Lamoureux
Piano Concerto No. 2
Eugène Bigot, conductor
Orchestre Lamoureux
Vox PL 6410 & PL 8220
Recorded June 27 & 29, 1949, Salle Pleyel
(dates for 2nd Concerto, others c. 1949, 1950)

Mozart: Concerto No. 15 in Bb Major, K. 450
Eugène Bigot, conductor
Orchestre Lamoureux
Vox PL 6580
Recorded July 23 & September 29, 1948, Salle Chopin

Mozart: Concerto No. 27 in B-flat major, K. 595
10 Variations on “Unser dummer Pöbel meint”, K. 455
Arthur Goldschmidt, conductor
Pro Musica Orchestra
Vox PL 6810
Recorded October 12, 1950, Salle Pleyel

Andor Foldes, piano


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2 Responses to Andor Foldes. Vox recordings of Bartók and Mozart

  1. Mitch Lee says:

    I have the Bartok LP in terrible shape but liked it enough to make a CD. The playing seems right. Mine gives a date of 1953. Later performances manage to seem slick and brutal at the same time. Quite a feat, but it does not serve the music well. Foldes plays with the right mix of humor and sentiment. Also he really brings out Bartok’s more surreal passages so that they seem as outrageous as they actually are! As an aside, I never believed the tempo in the first movement but had not noticed the pitch change. Thanks for your ear in fixing this! And thanks for the music.

  2. fattoxxon says:

    And a thank you from me too. I have not heard Bartok played like this, and it DOES make such a difference – especially when the left hand is playing chords instead of pounding them. I enjoyed the Bartok anecdote too – I shall remember it as I come back to these recordings again, because it’s such a pleasure to hear Bartok (through Foldes) making music instead of Bartok the enfant terrible trying Stravinsky-like to shock! David

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