Annie Fischer: Schumann

Schumann: Piano Sonata No. 1 & Schubert: 4 Impromptus D. 935

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Bryce Morrison, the celebrated critic and authority on piano music, described the pre-eminent Hungarian pianist as follows: ‘Annie Fischer was among the greatest and most richly comprehensive of all pianists’. The distinguished Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter, notoriously critical, described her as ‘an artist imbued with a spirit of greatness and with genuine profundity’.

Annie Fischer (1914-1995) was universally acclaimed as an interpreter of Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Schubert and Chopin, as well as of her compatriots Liszt, Bartók and Kodály, and was a recipient of Hungary’s highest cultural awards. As a pianist and musician of the highest standing, Fischer was often seen on the jury of major piano competitions such as the Queen Elisabeth in Belgium, the Leeds in England and the Liszt in Budapest. Despite her international reputation, however, in comparison with other pianists of her generation she is probably the least represented on disc. This is mainly due to her distaste for the recording process – she preferred the freedom and spontaneity of live performances. As Jonathan Summers describes in his booklet notes, Fischer was in London in March 1975 to give a recital in the Queen Elizabeth Hall but agreed to record her repertoire for the BBC prior to the concert as was common practice at the time, resulting in long takes as if in performance. Annie Fischer is heard here as she would have wanted – live and caught on the wing, making this recording a very valuable addition to her discography. Fischer’s recordings are rare and of major importance to collectors.

Fischer regularly performed Schubert’s Four Impromptus D.935 and her wide variety of touch and tone makes these popular works sound new and fresh · Among her contemporaries, Fischer was one of the few pianists to play Schumann’s Piano Sonata No.1. ‘She is the perfect artist to capture all of the composer’s shifting moods and episodic writing, giving a thoroughly convincing performance of this complex sonata’ (Jonathan Summers). This is her only recording of the work

Excellent stereo recordings by the BBC and superbly remastered by Paul Baily.