This fourth volume of late Cortot completes APR’s survey of the post-war recordings which the pianist made for EMI in the UK. We are now entering the era of tape recording, and apart from the Deutsche Ländler of 1951, all the other titles, which date from 1953-54, were recorded in this new medium. This gave the artist new freedom, as he was not restriced to the length of a 78rpm side for each take, and Cortot tackled much of his ‘big’ repertoire again. Sadly, by this time his failing health meant that many works remained unissued as they did not meet the standards of his earlier magnificent versions, however some old warehorses did stand the test of time, as can be heard in the Carnaval featured here. His playing may have become technically more fallible but the performances fully support the claim of the late Thomas Manshardt, one of Cortot's last pupils, that this period of Cortot's career "is his greatest in thought and warmth and mastery’.
The booklet contains a discography of all Cortot’s HMV sessions from 1953 to 1955.
“The old and ill master-pianist sprays wrong notes about even more than usual. There's some scintillating Chopin nonetheless, and Cortot's trademark supple lyricism in Schubert's Ländler.”
“Everything is blessed with a life-affirming charm, wit and vitality, Cortot's burning romantic conviction complemented by endless touches of wit and illumination...All the Chopin items are alive with a poetry and daredevil aplomb as required, also with a polyphonic magic all but extinct today...Bryan Crimp has done Cortot proud, prompting one to wonder if there was ever a pianist of greater human richness and coruscating vitality.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.