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The Complete Josef Hofmann, Vol. 6: The Casmir Hall Recital CD, Compilation, Classical, Limited Edition, Live

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Audio CD, CD, Compilation, December 8, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Josef Hofmann is arguably this century's greatest pianist. His memory was infallible, his repertoire was almost limitless and his technique was flawless. Hofmann is a legend and his final Casimir Hall Recital on 7 April 1938 is the pinnacle of a remarkable career. It is no wonder that this is one of the most anticipated piano recordings to debut on CD. Also included on this, the sixth in a series of nine volumes of the complete works of Josef Hofmann, is a 1936 broadcast of Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata which has never before been issued and an unforgettable 1941 performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in G, op. 58. With great pride, I present one of the most important CD sets that we have produced. -Ward Marston

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Piano Sonata No. 14 In C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2, 'Moonlight': I. Adagio sostenuto
  2. Piano Sonata No. 14 In C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2, 'Moonlight': II. Allegretto
  3. Piano Sonata No. 14 In C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2, 'Moonlight': III. Presto agitato
  4. Nocturne In F Sharp, Op. 15, No. 2
  5. Waltz In A Flat, Op. 42
  6. Waltz In D Flat, Op. 64, No. 1, 'Minute'
  7. Piano Sonata No. 21 In C, Op. 53, 'Waldstein': I. Allegro con brio
  8. Piano Sonata No. 21 In C, Op. 53, 'Waldstein': II. Introduzione: Adagio molto
  9. Piano Sonata No. 21 In C, Op. 53, 'Waldstein': III. Rondo: Allegretto moderato-Prestissimo
  10. Kreisleriana, Op. 16: I. Agitatissimo
  11. Kreisleriana, Op. 16: II. Con molto espressione, non troppo presto
  12. Kreisleriana, Op. 16: V. Vivace assai
  13. Kreisleriana, Op. 16: VI. Lento assai
  14. Kreisleriana, Op. 16: VII. Molto presto
  15. Kreisleriana, Op. 16: VIII. Vivace e scherzando
  16. Polonaise In E Flat Minor, Op. 26, No. 2
  17. Nocturne In B, Op. 9, No. 3

Disc: 2

  1. Waltz In E Flat, Op. 18, 'Valse Brillante'
  2. Ballade No. 4 In F Minor, Op. 52
  3. Waltz In D Flat, Op. 64, No. 1 'Minute'
  4. Caprice Orientale, Op. 10, No. 2
  5. Moment Musical, Op. 94, No.3
  6. Kaleidoskop, Op. 40, No. 4
  7. Penguine, No. 1 From 'Three Impressions'
  8. Piano Concerto No. 4 In G, Op. 58: I. Allegro moderato
  9. Piano Concerto No. 4 In G, Op. 58: II. Andante con moto
  10. Piano Concerto No. 4 In G, Op. 58: III. Rondo: Vivace
  11. Piano Sonata No. 14 In C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2, 'Moonlight': U.S. Columbia (48946-4) unpublished-13 October 1916
  12. Piano Sonata No. 14 In C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2, 'Moonlight': U.S. Columbia (48946-5) unpublished-13 October 1916
  13. Piano Sonata No. 14 In C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2, 'Moonlight': Bell Telephone Hour-31 July 1944


Product Details

  • Audio CD (December 8, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: CD, Compilation, Classical, Limited Edition, Live
  • Label: Marston
  • ASIN: B00000G3ZP
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,185 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Volume 6 is primarily Josef Hofmann's Casimir Hall Recital of 1938, featuring the Beethoven "Waldstein" Sonata and the Schumann Kreisleriana (slightly abridged), plus some shorter pieces. It also includes a complete recording of the Beethoven Moonlight Sonata from 1936 and a complete recording of a broadcast of the Beethoven G major Concerto from 1941. This pair of CD's needs a little caution -- Hofmann was in a strange mood for the Casimir Hall Recital, since he had been fired as director of the Curtis Institute shortly before the recital and his mood is, well, strange. But much of the playing is still wonderful. My assumption is that anyone interested in Hofmann will start by getting Volumes 1 & 2 -- the Chopin Concertos and the 1937 Golden Jubilee Recital. Beyond that, in choosing among Volumes 3 to 6, Volume 6 offers some unusual repertoire for Hoffman. The Waldstein is both astonishing and quirky, a performance you have to hear to believe, not that you will necessarily like it. The tempos in the second and third movement are far faster than anyone else has attempted. The melodic line and the tempos are sometimes distorted beyond recognition. But it's still amazing! In the Chopin Minute Waltz, the repeat is taken in thirds! For piano aficionados and Hofmann lovers, this is a "must" recording. For others, it is good but ranks below Volumes 4 or 5, due to problems in the Casimir Hall portion -- the quirkiness at times and the sound level that fluctuates. An excellent 32 page booklet is included.
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Want to know why Hofmann was considered to be one of the greatest titans of the keyboard? Well, let's forget nicey-nice performances, drop our scores, widen our emotional dynamic ranges, open our hearts and minds and really listen to his performance of the Chopin f minor Ballade! It is incredibly personal, passionate, and shattering! There is nothing like it, yet there there is so much more on this set to learn from and be moved by. Here is astounding pianism and musicianship from one of the greatest pianists of all time recorded live, close to his prime. Ward Marston has done wonders with the sound.
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Hofmann - particularly late Hofmann - may be an acquired taste.

Despite having been the protégé of Anton Rubinstein, "the wonderful boy" was recognized from quite an early age as the exemplar of a modern style of playing - textually faithful, eschewing swooning or bombast. (See, for example, the references to Hofmann in Henry Lahee's wonderful survey from 1900, Famous Pianists of Today and Yesterday.)

Still, a number of younger colleagues expressed ambivalence. Horowitz was floored by Hofmann's keyboard command - everyone was - but he, Artur Rubinstein and Arrau, to name just three - seem not to have been terribly moved by Hofmann's musicianship.

But which Hofmann are we considering? His playing for the gramophone - as early as 1903 and as late as 1935 - was as disciplined as it was imaginative and dazzling. The late Harold Schonberg called it "perfection plus."

However, as Gregor Benko makes clear in his essays for the Marston reissues, Hofmann switched on what the pianist called a "spectacular" style for many public performances. This may sound cynical. Often it sounds terribly cynical. Hofmann was not speaking merely of the need to project in a large concert hall. In public performance - at least those performances we have from the late `30s and early `40s - the aristocrat often becomes a mountebank, lurching from the softest pianissimos to explosive fortissimos, rattling off passages or entire pieces even faster than Simon Barere boasted he could do.

Schonberg - and Hofmann's friend and admirer Rachmaninoff - reminded us that during this period Hofmann had many personal troubles, including a severe drinking problem.
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First of all Hofmann's performance sounds unique to me which means unusual at present time. He has his own logic in his playing. For Moonlight in 1936, especially the "Presto agitato", he is driving the music like a surfer to pursue wave. And through music, he also drives my thought and mood. The tempo is not ordinary but accelerative. Then to climax, it stops, with sound reechoing in my mind. The same happens obviously again in Stokowski's Caprice Orientale.

Secondly, even in very fast passage like Chopin's Waltz Minute every note sounds very clear and lively while causing great pleasure in enjoying.

Finally, it looks like he was playing. I mean he plays music like playing games. His interpretations are diversified. He played the same piece in different feeling. You can easily find it to compare four performances of Moonlight's first movement in this album.

Furthermore, thank a lot Mr. Marston for his fabulous reproduction to make Hofmann's music alive.
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