Marcelle Meyer Plays Scarlatti: The 1947 Sonata Recordings
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Audio CD, July 24, 2001
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Marcelle Meyer was one of France's leading pianists, renowned for her interpretations of Baroque keyboard works and championship of contemporary composers like Poulenc and Stravinsky, both of whom dedicated pieces to her. These 1947 recordings of 27 sonatas tell us why Meyer's Scarlatti performances were legendary. Chopin justified assigning Scarlatti sonatas to his pupils, writing: "in his music there are exercises in plenty for the fingers and a good deal of lofty spiritual food." In Meyer's superb performances, we hear those technical excellences amid a spiritual feast. She brings gentle radiance to the E Major Sonata, K. 380, and remarkably even runs to the A Major, K. 114. Her fingerwork is spectacular in virtually all these marvelous works, which require that a keyboardist perform difficult technical feats while making everything sound relaxed and easy. The Bach Toccata is done with similar panache. The time restraints of 78 rpm result in repeats missing from most of the sonatas, making these short gems even more concentrated. Seth Winner's transfers are remarkably good, although a few items are plagued by faulty originals. Overall, this is a disc of endless delights. --Dan Davis
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Top customer reviews
Meyer studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Marguerite Long, Alfred Cortot and Ricardo Viñes... Thus in many ways she embodies all that is best in French pianism, having the pearl-like diaphanous dexterity of Mme Long, the rhythmic life and sweeping élan of Cortot and the coloristic sexyness of the Spaniard à Paris. Her playing, very feminine in its suppleness, never suffers from that hurried, shallow fluency that afflicts some French pianists.
She played everything, but, besides the moderns, she particularly favoured Bach, Scarlatti and the French clavecinists at a time when these were rarely heard. She is an absorbing, indeed hypnotic interpreter, who always seems to know where she is going. Listen to track 18, Kk 474, for a particularly memorable souvenir of her art: a perfectly sustained cantabile, heartbreakingly lovely tone, a fine espressivo never sentimentalised or romanticised. Then in Kk 377 she takes off with a filigreed jeu perlé that has to be heard to be believed. Resonant Kk 96 alternates all kinds of dynamics and speeds, all thoroughly articulated and controlled with a complete and VERY BRILLIANT grand manner. Then Kk 69 floats by like a dream, showing exactly why and how this music imprinted itself in the minds and hearts of Impressionist composers.
And so on. I loved this disk and the sound is terrific.