Association News Items

Recent News Items



Announcing a Landmark Commemoration of Pianist Cécile Genhart

The American Matthay Association is proud to announce a modern three-CD compilation of the finest recordings of Cécile Genhart, ranging from 1936 to 1961. The product of several years of intensive preparation and restoration, this project was overseen by our former president, Mary Pendleton-Hoffer, and the American Matthay Association expresses its gratitude to the many donors who contributed to its success, as well as to Prof. Stewart Gordon of the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California—Mrs. Genhart's biographer and her former pupil—who contributed the marvelously informative liner notes in the accompanying 27-page booklet. In addition to Prof. Gordon, the artistic selections have been overseen by former Genhart students Prof. Brian Preston of Nazareth College in Rochester, and Prof. Bradford Gowen of the University of Maryland. The original recordings have all been digitized and beautifully transferred by master engineer Seth Winner.

Mme Genhart, who was born Cécile Staub in Basel, Switzerland, was from an intensely musical family, and her father was intimate with some of the greatest musicians of the day—including Max Reger, Fritz Kreisler, Albert Schweitzer, and Walter Gieseking—all of whom were welcome guests in their home. She was, quite literally, born into the "Golden Age" of pianism, and during World War I, she played for both Ferruccio Busoni and Eugen d'Albert in Zurich, later studying intensively with Emil Frey, a student of Rudolf Breithaupt. She made her European debut in Zurich in November of 1920, before relocating to Munich to attend the master classes of Josef Pembauer, eventually reaching Berlin in October of 1921, where she became close to Edwin Fischer and his wife. But though she revered Pembauer and Fischer for their musical insights, she felt profoundly disappointed that neither offered any guidance to explain how their effects were achieved at the instrument. In December of 1922, she made her Berlin Philharmonic debut to a packed house under its concertmaster, Otto Marienhagen—deputized to stand in for an ailing Fischer—performing both the Beethoven First and the Brahms Second, and the reviews were marvelous.

After she married pianist and conductor Herman Genhart, they arrived in Rochester, New York, in 1924, and two years later, she joined the faculty of the Eastman School of Music, where she served for decades as one of its preeminent teachers. She began studying with Tobias Matthay in 1929, and in her words,"He was the greatest teacher I had ever known. ... If one of the criteria of a great teacher is the ability to make every one of his students play beautifully, then surely Tobias Matthay is master of us all."

To see the program Mrs. Genhart performed for the American Matthay Association in 1944, click here.

Those interested in purchasing this commemorative set at a price of $25, plus shipping and handling, should contact our AMA Treasurer, Signe Sebo Zale, at sigbobzale@aol.com


Announcing the Complete Decca Recordings of Dame Moura Lympany

In December 2019, Decca's Eloquence label released the complete Decca recordings of Dame Moura Lympany, including previously unissued material, newly remastered and issued with a comprehensive introduction to her early life and recording career. When Moura Lympany first visited Decca's West Hampstead studios in 1941 to record a pair of Preludes by Rachmaninov, even the composer himself had committed no more than seven of them to disc, and Eileen Joyce (with Lympany, a fellow pupil of the legendary piano pedagogue Tobias Matthay) had recorded only six. But the ecstatic critical reception to her first recordings—noting the strength of her tone and the subtle play of rubato—enabled her to complete the set within 18 months. That complete set has already been reissued by Eloquence (see below), but in this box set of her complete Deccas it has been coupled with her remake of the cycle for LP, produced by John Culshaw using Decca's new "ffrr" technology. In the interim period she had been wooed away from Decca by Walter Legge at HMV, but she returned both to re-record staples of her repertoire and to add works such as the demanding Third Concerto of Rachmaninov, a highly commanding and original account.

Here also comparisons can be made between her later and her lesser-known early recordings of the Second Concerto by Saint-Saëns and the big Romantically styled concerto by Khachaturian which had for her become a signature work after she gave the UK premiere in 1940. Also in 1947, Lympany recorded Chopin's B minor Sonata for Decca, but before now it has never been released. Now available for the first time, her performance displays an extraordinary insight into one of the great Romantic masterworks, and the subtle sensuality she imparts to the Largo may well be one of the most moving accounts on record. Eloquence has also unearthed a pair of superb live broadcasts: the quirky and lighthearted First Piano Concerto by Alan Rawsthorne (recorded in 1945, with the BBCSO conducted by Sir Adrian Boult), and a landmark work of 20th-century pianism, the Sonata by Samuel Barber, from December 1950. No collector of pianists and great piano recordings will want to be without this comprehensive tribute to Lympany's art. The extensive booklet is superbly annotated with a reminiscence by Bryce Morrison and a fascinating note by Stephen Siek, as well as several rare and some previously unseen photographs from the Moura Lympany Archive. This landmark compilation was made possible partially by a donation from the American Matthay Association.

LEFT: Click on the cover image to go directly to the U. S. Amazon site for this title

       RIGHT: Click on image at right to see an expanded view of Tobias Matthay's letter to Lympany from May
of 1938 congratulating her for placing in the finals of the Eugène Ysaÿe Competition in Brussels
(now the Queen Elisabeth Competition)

The Reviews Thus Far ...

READ the most recent review of Moura Lympany: The Decca Legacy here.





An Important, Historic CD Release

On May 29, 1941, a twenty-four-year-old Moura Lympany walked into the Decca studios at Brockhurst Gardens in West Hampstead, greater London, to record Rachmaninoff's famous Prelude in C-sharp minor. She remained that day to record eight additional Preludes from Rachmaninoff's opus 23, and fifteen months later she became the first pianist in history to have recorded the composer's complete set of 24. She was then studying with Tobias Matthay, who coached her extensively on all of her repertoire, and after Matthay's death in 1945, she recorded the complete Preludes twice more. She returned to the Decca studios in January 1951 to record them in the new LP format, and over 40 years later, in April 1993, the now Dame Moura Lympany recorded them as CDs for the Erato label. To the present day, she remains the only pianist to have recorded the complete set in each of the three main commercial formats, but although the 1951 LPs have long been available as CDs, this month marks the first occasion that these historic 78s, recorded during the darkest days of World War II, have been made accessible to modern listeners.

Issued on Decca's Eloquence Classics label, the transfers in this set are superb, and the recording is accompanied by a beautiful twelve-page booklet containing fascinating and previously unpublished photos provided by the Estate of Moura Lympany, such as the one at right taken on August 8, 1929, as the twelve-year-old artist was about to make her debut with the Mendelssohn G minor Concerto in Harrogate, Yorkshire. The commentary is by Matthay scholar and former AMAP president
Stephen Siek. The CD is now available in the US through Amazon and other vendors.





The Reviews Thus Far ...


The new Decca Eloquence reissue of Moura Lympany's 24 Rachmaninoff Preludes has been received exceptionally well by the press. The October 2017 Gramophone, arguably the world's most widely read and respected classical CD journal, prefaced its review with its laudatory "G" symbol designating a recording of special merit. Scholar and commentator Jeremy Nicholas wrote: "There are simply so many glories here: the popular G minor Prelude bears comparison with any, while the lovely G flat major and G major are also the best of Lympany's three versions. One is left wondering why such a recording has taken so long to come back into circulation." The full text is available only to Gramophone subscribers, but those interested may click here or on the image at left. Pianist and commentator Philip Buttall has also contributed a glowing review to the October edition of MusicWeb International, the leading British classical CD site. His extensive essay is filled with praise, which he sums up in a final paragraph: "Should you still need any further convincing, then just start at [the] end and listen to the masterly way in which she despatches the final Prelude in D flat from the Op. 32 set, and especially its grandiose climax—a piece which is generally considered a perfect summation of all the music that has gone before, and here a fitting testament to Moura Lympany’s epic achievement as well." The full review can be read simply by clicking on the image at right.

And the unreserved praise of Australian critic Neville Cohn may be found here.







For November 2017:

Announcing New Landmark Commemorations of a Matthay-Trained Artist

Few Matthay students have ever generated the mystique of the often enigmatic Eileen Joyce. Born in Tasmania, her family was so poor that her mother used to fashion her clothing from flour sacks, and her first teacher was a nun, an arrangement her father only permitted because the family was charged a mere sixpence a lesson. When Eileen was still in her teens, Australia's most famous native-born pianist, Percy Grainger, declared her to be "the most transcendentally gifted young piano student I have heard in the last 25 years." Many years later, though few had access to her long out-of-print recordings, even Glenn Gould sang her praises: "She played Mozart with real devotion. Even I could recognize that, though I couldn't figure out whence it came. It's funny, too, because I heard her very old recording—late thirties or forties—of K.576 just a few weeks ago on the radio, for the first time in perhaps twenty years, and it made me think once again what an extraordinary pianist she really was." And several decades later, the British-born Stephen Hough wrote, "She displayed all the dazzle and scintillating virtuosity of many great players of the past ... she has to be added to the list of great pianists from the past."

She began her studies with Matthay in 1930, and shortly thereafter, he wrote to his American pupil Bruce Simonds that his studio now included "an Australian genius." As recounted in Stephen Siek's England's Piano Sage: The Life and Teachings of Tobias Matthay, "On 8 June 1932, she had paired the [Paul de] Schlözer ['left-hand' Etude in A-flat] with [Liszt's] La leggierezza, for her first Parlophone record, a 'vanity' recording to which one of her male admirers had committed £20. The disc was meant purely to enhance her marketability to concert agents, but when Parlophone executives listened to it, they were so overwhelmed with her virtuosity that they had it placed in record shops by August." From that time until the end of her recording career in 1959, she made over 100 recordings for the Parlophone, Columbia, and Decca labels, as well as for the smaller British label
Saga, which was founded in the 1950s. In the last several years, Matthay devotees can be especially grateful for the wonderful series "The Matthay Pupils," issued by the British APR label, and overseen by Mike Spring, whose expertise and devotion to historic performance has made incalculable contributions to ressurecting the Golden Age of pianism. The first installment in the APR series, Eileen Joyce: The Complete Parlophone & Columbia Solo Recordings, was a five-CD set that is now difficult to obtain—in fact, APR's inventory is totally exhausted. Thus, Eileen Joyce—The Complete Studio Recordings, a new 10-CD set from the Eloquence division of Decca scheduled for release in Australia on November 24, is both timely and groundbreaking, for it reissues not only fresh remasterings of the recordings represented in the APR set, but it includes the many concertos which Joyce also recorded—even her 1936 recording of the Shostakovich First and her previously unpublished account (beautifully remastered) of the Tchaikovsky Second with Polish conductor Grzegorz Fitelberg. The full contents of this 10-CD collection may be accessed here.

Issued a mere four months after the acclaimed Moura Lympany Rachmaninoff set, the new Eileen Joyce collection has again been spearheaded by the indefatigable Cyrus Meher-Homji, the classical music manager for Decca Universal, who has also contributed to the companion booklet which accompanies the set, a collection of essays from such well-known commentators as Bryce Morrison, a long-time friend and admirer of Joyce. Almost concurrent with the release of the Eloquence recordings is a new book chronicling Joyce's life and career, Destiny: The Extraordinary Career of Pianist Eileen Joyce, issued by Lyrebird Press, an imprint of the Victorian College of the Arts at the University of Melbourne. Scheduled for a November 13 release, this 220-page book includes essays by Melbourne Emeritus Professor David Tunley, scholar Victoria Rogers, and Cyrus has again contributed a wonderfully detailed essay examining Joyce's recordings.

To see the new Eloquence video publicizing this remarkable 10-CD set, please click here, and click either here or on the cover image above to order the set through US Amazon.




The Reviews Thus Far ...


The praise for Decca's Eloquence reissue of Eileen Joyce's Complete Studio Recordings has been nearly unprecedented. Writing in the March 2018 issue of Gramophone, piano scholar and commentator Jeremy Nicholas notes that Joyce's 1936 recording of the Mozart A major Rondo provides "a glimpse of the pellucid tone and unaffected phrasing that won her playing of this composer the unlikely admiration of Glenn Gould." He adds, "Among the many highlights is the remarkable La leggierezza that first brought Joyce to the attention of the movers and shakers," and "Paul de Schlözer’s ... infamous Étude in A flat, Op 1 No 2, accessible only to the Hamelins and Houghs of this world. What fabulous dexterity and tonal allure, what fearless execution and total musical conviction! In many of these short, showy works, Eileen Joyce is nonpareil. Her celebrated 1934 dispatch of Palmgren’s En route will put an end to any argument about that." The full text is available here or simply click on the image at left.

Also in March of 2018, MusicWeb International, the leading British classical CD site, deemed the Eileen Joyce set as "Recording of the Month," with critic Stephen Greenbank observing that "this superb collection will grace any historical piano recordings collection." He adds, "The Rachmaninov Prelude selection and Shostakovich Fantastic dances find the ideal interpreter in Joyce, who delivers idiomatic readings with plenty of personality. In the Arensky D minor Trio, Op. 32, the pianist joins forces with Henri Temianka on violin and Antoni Sala on cello. The players savour the soaring lyricism of the music, investing passion, power and energy when required. One of the finest versions I've heard." The full review can be read simply by clicking on the image at the right.

The accolades bestowed last December by Pianist magazine can be found here, and the briefer, though highly complimentary, review which appeared in January in the Classical Music Guide appears here. Jed Distler's authoritative praise may be found here at ClassicsToday.com, though a subscription is required to read the full text. However, few critics have exceeded Australia's David Barmby in the praise he conferred in the Melbourne-based Performing Arts Hub: "These recordings include many of the concertos with which Joyce is most closely associated including a most moving Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 2, a joyous Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No 2 (in his pupil Siloti’s edition), a superbly articulated, argued, brilliant and dazzling Piano Concerto by Grieg and notably outstanding performances of John Ireland’s engaging Piano Concerto and Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No 1. However, Joyce’s Chopin is the outstanding material here, breathing a free spaciousness, delicacy and understatement. The Brahms 6 Klavierstücke, Op 118 are imaginative with a sensuous elasticity. There is a raft of occasional pieces conveyed with precision, wit and charm, particularly Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, Op 43." His full review can be read here.









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