John Field Nocturne No 4 played by Carl Reinecke on piano roll from 1907

John Field Nocturne No 4 played by Carl Reinecke on piano roll from 1907.

How charming is this!!! Modern technology like CDs, mps are great and all that- but they do not have charm

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Jacques Thibaud plays Romance in F by Beethoven, 1925 recording

Jacques Thibaud plays Romance in F by Beethoven, 1925 recording

Jacques Thibaud plays Romance in F by Beethoven. This is a very early electric recording on French Disque Gramophone. Romance No.2 in F major, op.50 25th Nov. 1925, Hayes, England with Harold Craxton(p)

I like this recording- there is something very immediate about the sound.

Felix Mendelssohn – A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture – Roll recording C.1908

Felix Mendelssohn – A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture – Roll recording C.1908

This is charming! It has a good sound for an antique too.

Here is one of Mendelssohn’s best known works which was played and recorded on a piano roll around 1910. The four hands arrangement (presumably by Mendelssohn) was performed by two pianists, Josef Weiss and Emerich Stefaniai who together made a number of rolls in duet at Leipzig for Hupfeld AG before WW1. Both pianists have unfortunately been long forgotten.

The Austro – Hungarian pianist Josef Weiss had a very distinguished career – he was not only a ‘pupil’ of Liszt, but friend and colleague of both Mahler and Busoni. A technically gifted pianist, his style of playing although somewhat eccentric was brilliantly effective. He recorded many piano rolls but very few gramophone records, all show an interesting interpretative approach.

For those who think piano rolls are not a valid recording medium, it is worth pointing out that longer piano works such as this could not in the 1900’s be recorded on to gramophone records without either making huge cuts or the pianist playing beat the clock. The roll recordings therefore in many ways are a more faithful record of the overall performance but not necessarily of the dynamics.