I don’t think I ever had any Annie Fischer LPs. Nor did I hear her live, although I had the opportunity to do so, Beethoven PC3 with Solti and the LPO (he conducting Elgar 2). I was introduced to her greatness by a BBC Legends release that included a terrific studio recording made for German radio broadcast of Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ Variations & Fugue (Opus 35). I am also pleased to have an EMI twofer (CZS 5687332, now Warner Classics if still listed) of recordings made by Fischer between 1955 and 1964, about which the following words.
A few bars of a Schubert Impromptu (the A-flat from D935) is enough to be reminded of Fischer’s capability for soulful playing and shapely phrasing, seducing the listener, and her fiery mercurial traversal of its F-minor companion gives another dimension to her artistry.
This compilation includes three Beethoven Sonatas – ‘Pathétique’, ‘Moonlight’ and Opus 111 – performances in which Fischer’s fleet fingers, intense focus and searching musicianship bring many rewards, hypnotic in slow movements, superbly tempestuous in the Finale of the ‘Moonlight’, and exploratory/unvarnished in Opus 111, the latter produced by Walter Legge.
On disc two, Budapest-born Fischer (1914-95) essays Schumann’s Kreisleriana and Kinderszenen (LP cover illustrated, Columbia SAX 2583, released in 1965) in readings that show her poetic and passionate personas.
Placed last in this collection is the oldest taping (1955, Abbey Road, stereo, “edited from previously unissued masters”), Bartók’s Third Piano Concerto with the LSO and Igor Markevitch, an interpretation notable for a lack of sentimentality yet with nothing glossed over, pianist and conductor of one mind, the religioso slow movement being especially poignant, and with a Finale that leaps off the page.