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Arthur Friedheim (1859-1932): Liszt - Les Jeux d'Eaux

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Published on Mar 2, 2008

Arthur Friedheim was a pupil of Liszt from the late 1870s, and acted as Liszt's secretary during the 1880s until Liszt's death in Arthur Friedheim was a pupil of Liszt from the late 1870s, and acted as Liszt's secretary during the 1880s until Liszt's death in Arthur Friedheim was a pupil of Liszt from the late 1870s, and acted as Liszt's secretary during the 1880s until Liszt's death in 1886, with daily contact and experience of all that Liszt did in that period: he is our best witness to Liszt's performance and thoughts from that time. Liszt greatly admired Friedheim's playing, declaring that his interpretation of his now famous B minor piano sonata was just as he wanted it to have been (there was a piano roll made by Friedheim of the sonata, for the Triphonola company: If anyone knows of the whereabouts of this roll I'd like to hear about it - the roll is thought lost, but if it still exists it would be one of the most important musical documents in the history of piano performance and it needs to be preserved in digital media and performance).

Friedheim's own playing was exceptionally aristocratic and elevated. There is a sense of what we now call "classicism" to his interpretations. Control, balance and concentration. The few recordings he made are fascinating.

This is a Duo-Art piano roll made in 1916. Not much "live" performance survives of Friedheim, and as he is such an important figure, a couple of piano rolls of more extended works posted here can help to understand his approaches to performance. Unfortunetly the rolls, while capturing dynamics and pedalling, do not give a satisfactory recording of tone quality and subtle inner chordal voicings. Thus the overal effect is a bit opaque, and Duo-Art rolls are not as reliable as Welte rolls in this regard (as well as occasionally playing back with some rhythmic jerkiness and lumpiness more than Welte). This roll is a performance of "Les Jeux d'Eaux à la Villa d'Este", from the Troisième Année volume of Années de Pèlerinage.

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