Friedrich Wührer, Pt. 3. Concerti by Dvořák, Scriabin & Prokofiev (Vox)

Last time I posted recordings (see link) by Friedrich Wührer, I promised more, and here they are, with the promise of more yet! I’ve just missed his birthday, which was yesterday, but it’s always a good day to make available more recordings by this neglected pianist. The Scriabin is not idiomatic in the manner of the wonderfully hazy sound world created by Sofronitsky, but is rather a very precise, sober and beautifully clear version. All of this sounds rather wrongheaded for Scriabin, I’ll admit, but give it a listen, and I think you’ll find that somehow Wührer’s approach works quite well. The recorded sound, while not bad, balances the piano very backwardly. Given that the piano writing often supports the more sustained fabric of the orchestral canvas, this probably resembles the balance of an actual concert hall, but it IS difficult to make out what the piano is doing at times.

The Prokofiev performances are not easy to understand. Wührer and Gielen, more often than not, seem to be dissecting the works. Tempi are VERY deliberate, especially in the 3rd Concerto, and the dash (indeed, in Prokofiev’s own recording, the slapdash!) and wit are in very short supply. On the other hand, we hear every note very clearly, and some of Gielen’s clarifying of textures, especially the wind writing, is very unusual. Taken on their own terms, there is much to fascinate and admire, perhaps on a second hearing, and certainly these are unique readings! The 2nd Concerto is spacious, but less perversely slow, and responds better to this micro-analytical approach. I love the beauty Wührer’s voicing of the opening section of the 1st movement, the cadenzas are deep-toned and well controlled. There is a ruggedness about the last movement that ultimately wins me over. (Note: the abrupt beginning of the 2nd movement is cut off in the original lp).

Scriabin: Concerto in F-Sharp Minor, op. 20.
Vox PL 9200
Recorded December 7, 1954
Pro Musica Orchestra, Vienna
Hans Swarowsky, conductor

Dvořák: Concerto in G Minor, op. 33
Vox PL 7630
Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Rudolf Moralt, conductor

Prokofiev: Concerto no. 2 in G Minor, op. 16.
Vox PL 12.100

Prokofiev: Concerto no. 3 in C Major, op. 26
Vox PL 12.190
Southwest German Radio Orchestra, Baden-Baden
Michael Gielen, conductor

Friedrich Wührer, piano

Recorded in the early to mid 1950s.

Thanks again to Mike Gartz for all of his very nice source material. The Dvořák is a bit worn, but the others are from what must have been unplayed copies! Next up, the Brahms 1st Concerto and some HMV 78 recordings.

Note: I’ve had some folks ask about my older transfers of Wührer’s Schubert Sonatas, since the links don’t seem to show up in searches now, so here they are:

I hope to redo these in Flac versions sometime soon, but these are Mp3 only. Also, there are several sides with fairly bad mastering defects (overloading) in the Vox Box versions. I’m told that the single disc versions are free of these problems, and hopefully I’ll find those.

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4 Responses to Friedrich Wührer, Pt. 3. Concerti by Dvořák, Scriabin & Prokofiev (Vox)

  1. Albert says:

    Addendum to my comment: I must just mention that the first movement of the Dvořák Piano Concerto on FLAC ends abruptly, about 2.5 minutes before the end. I don’t know if this is a problem on the original disc or just a glitch. I became aware of it when the file extractor reported a ‘broken file’. I checked the file on both RS and MF and its the same. Don’t know about the MP3s. If you decide to redo it at some point, please let me know if possible, so that I can get it. With thanks.

  2. tatifan says:

    I can’t check my original file until I’m back from xmas travels in January, but I’ll try to fix it then. Thanks for letting me know, and sorry about that!

  3. Steve W says:

    Wührer’s performances range from the powerful to the utterly profound, and I always enjoy them. It’s a pleasure to hear these gems again. Neal, do you happen to have his recording — with Swarowsky, I believe — of the Brahms PC 1? Somebody uploaded a CATASTROPHE once, a transfer with grotesque noise & bad frequency response, too awful to keep. What I could hear was that it had every virtue of his Dvorak concerto performance. What a thrill it would be to enjoy it in the authentic sound of one of YOUR excellent transfers!

    Steve W. – retired audio engineer, San Jose

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