Un « nouveau » Concerto de Schumann par Annie Fischer – son quatrième publié si l’on compte la version de studio avec Otto Klemperer – cela ne se refuse pas, d’autant que Carlo Maria Giulini l’accompagne avec le Philharmonia ! L’entente, qui aurait dût être magique n’apparait que par éclipse, chacun joue un peu de son coté, Guilini cherchant la symphonie, Annie Fischer simplement peu en forme, traits imprécis, chant sans accent, main gauche en service minimum qui effleure à peine les contrechants dans le finale, l’affaire est pliée, son grand Concerto de Schumann reste celui qu’elle enregistra pour la Radio de Cologne le 28 avril 1958 sous la direction exaltée de Joseph Keilberth. Mais ce qui suit fait tout le prix du disque : le 29 aout 1962 Leon Fleisher et George Szell emportent avec des subtilités toutes mozartiennes - ces cordes fringantes, ces rythmes pointés, ce clavier bondissant – le 2e Concerto de Beethoven. Equilibre idéal, dialogue chambriste, il faut entendre comment Szell serti le piano de Fleisher, leur complicité est plus brillante encore ici que dans l’enregistrement qu’ils en ont r réalisé l’année passée le 16 avril 1961 à Cleveland pour la CBS. Magnifique. Cette parution inattendue milite pour que tout ce qu’ils ont enregistré ensemble en concert soit révélé. Ce Deuxième de Beethoven ouvrait le concert du 29 aout 1962 au Kunsthaus de Lucerne dont Audite avait déjà publié la seconde partie, une Première Symphonie de Brahms où Szell enflammait également le Swiss Festival orchestra (CD Audite 95.265, qui comprend également une interprétation irrésistible de la 8e Symphonie de Dvorak : George Szell y retrouvait la Philharmonie Tchèque). (Discophilia - Artalinna.com) (Jean-Charles Hoffelé)
The eighth disc in the series “LUCERNE FESTIVAL Historic Performances” is dedicated to two piano icons: in 1960 and 1962, with two years between them, Hungarian-born Annie Fischer and the American Leon Fleisher made their debuts at LUCERNE FESTIVAL. Released here for the first time in their entirety, these live recordings document them at the peak of their art. Sviatoslav Richter called her a “brilliant musician”, accrediting her with “great breath and true depth”. András Schiff acknowledged: “I have never heard more poetic playing in my life.” Annie Fischer, born in Budapest in 1914, gave public performances even as a child, winning the International Liszt Competition in 1930 and after that, except during the war, touring worldwide. Nonetheless, she tends to be rated as an insider’s tip, not least because she left behind only a handful of studio recordings. That makes live recordings such as this, released for the first time, all the more precious: at her only performance in Lucerne in summer 1960, Annie Fischer realised a sensitive, chamber-like and exceptionally poetic reading of the Schumann Piano Concerto with which she “garnered unusually fervent success”, according to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. She found congenial musical partners in Carlo Maria Giulini and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Leon Fleisher made his Lucerne debut in 1962 at the age of thirty-four: on the peak of his rapid career which had – as had been the case with Annie Fischer – catapulted him into musical life while he was still a child. However, only a few months after his Lucerne performance – released for the first time in its entirety – he developed “focal dystonia”, making the use of his right hand impossible. During the following decades, Fleisher became a specialist of the left-handed repertoire until, in his old age, he was once again able to play with both hands, thanks to new medical treatments. In Lucerne, he presented himself with one of his party pieces – Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto, which he played with an elegant and transparent tone. The Swiss Festival Orchestra was conducted by George Szell, with whom he had made a studio recording of the concerto one year previously – an interesting comparison. The second half of this concert, Brahms’ First Symphony, is already available in this series of “LUCERNE FESTIVAL Historic Performances” and has been awarded the “Diapason d’Or” as well as a nomination for the International Classical Music Awards (ICMA). The 32-page booklet in three languages provides extensive background information on Annie Fischer and Leon Fleisher, and also features photos from the festival archives of all artists involved, published here for the very first time. In cooperation with audite, LUCERNE FESTIVAL presents outstanding concert recordings of artists who have shaped the festival throughout its history. The aim of this CD edition is to rediscover treasures – most of which have not been released previously – from the first six decades of the festival, which was founded in 1938 with a special gala concert conducted by Arturo Toscanini. These recordings have been made available by the archives of SRF Swiss Radio and Television, which has broadcast the Lucerne concerts from the outset. Painstakingly re-mastered and supplemented with photos and materials from the LUCERNE FESTIVAL archive, they represent a sonic history of the festival.