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This reissue of recordings by Guiomar Novaes (1895-1979) is most welcome. Novaes was a Brazilian pianist who became a pupil of Isidor Philipp at the Paris Conservatoire: an indispensable companion to the present disc is an APR twofer (APR6015) of her complete 78rpm recordings. Most of her recordings, though, were made for Vox in the 1950s (as were these).

You may find you need that background, as Forgotten Records includes no booklet notes whatsoever. A shame, as the transfers are generally well managed, meaning that one can concentrate on the beauty of Novaes’ tone and the fluency of her delivery. Only in some of the orchestral tuttis is crowding a problem. In both pieces here, she finds much detail; her light use of the pedal seems reminiscent of Arrau in this repertoire on a technical level; but if there is a musical similarity, it is spefically to the later Arrau, because for Novaes purity of line and tone is all. Piano and orchestra work best together in the central movement, which flows beautifully; the finale is the weakest, with the voltage set to low and the recording sounding insubstantial.

The Sonata finds the piano more forward, and Novaes’ clean bass is nicely resonant. This is a special performance, gorgeously flighty in the second movement but with tremendous jewel-like definition. Again, pedal is kept to a minimum; the finale exudes great excitement. One can hear similar intelligent playing, with similar use of pedal, in her 1946 Columbia Third Ballade on the APR set.

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