Thursday, January 6, 2011

Edwin Fischer's Chamber Orchestra

The piano playing of Edwin Fischer (1886-1960) has been widely documented in CD reissues, which is only right, considering that he was one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century.  (Alfred Brendel, who celebrated his 80th birthday this week, was one of his students.)  Less well known, however, is his work as a conductor.  He left a number of recordings of Bach and Mozart concerti, on which he conducted his own chamber orchestra from the piano, and these have been reissued widely. But he also left a few recordings of purely orchestral works, including this first recording of Mozart's Symphony No. 33 in B-Flat, K. 319:

Mozart: Symphony No. 33 in B-Flat, K. 319 and
Bach: Suite No. 3 in D - Air
Edwin Fischer's Chamber Orchestra
Recorded October 13, 1936
Victor Musical Masterpiece Set DM-479, three 78-rpm records

and, in the same package:

Bach: Ricercar a 6 from "The Musical Offering" (arr. Fischer)
Edwin Fischer's Chamber Orchestra
Recorded January 5, 1933 (78 years ago yesterday)
Victor 8660, one 78-rpm record

With this post I am now offering a choice between FLAC or MP3 file formats.  Here are the links for this Fischer Chamber Orchestra package:

Link (FLAC files, 79.58 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 36.14 MB)

Interestingly enough, both orchestral sessions outlined above also were devoted to works for piano and orchestra: the Mozart symphony session in 1936 also produced a wonderful recording of Mozart's Rondo for piano and orchestra in D, K. 382, and the major work recorded at the 1933 session that produced the Bach Ricercar was the Bach D minor clavier concerto.


  1. Thanks, Bryan - I had no idea these existed. I expect them to be quite special!

  2. Thank you, it's so interesting to get a chance to hear this. If you have a copy of the Haydn symphony 104 which Fischer recorded with "his" group and would upload it for distribution, I think many people would be "astounded" by that performance. Some years ago, I wrote the following with regard to "recommended" recordings of the Haydn 104:

    "Well, as expected from me, there's the Toscanini broadcast which has previously been noted and one that I have not seen mentioned:
    It's a recording by Edwin Fischer with his Chamber Orchestra. I find it marvelous. A friend copied it from the 78s for me [on to reel-to-reel tapes]. It was reissued on cd in Japan (of course) but I understand that the sound wasn't very good. In any event, it should be reissued. For those who are interested, here's B.H. Haggin's review of the recording from his "Music on Records"(NY: 1946):

    "The performance by Fischer's Chamber Orchestra in Victor Set 617 is not only superb in musical outline, warmth, spirit, force, but enchanting in the way an ensemble performance by a small group of fine musicians can be - in the sensitiveness and fluidity of the perfectly
    co-ordinated progression, the balance of the instrumental lines, the matching and blending of the colors and sonorities. And these give
    even greater effect to the music than do the powerful phrasing, the beautiful finish and sonority of Beecham's excellent performance with
    the London Philharmonic on Columbia Set 409."

    With best regards from over here,

  3. Hi Bryan!

    Pleased to see this. I learned of its existence when researching my own post of the Fritz Stein Mozart 28th Symphony ( as Time magazine profiled the two recordings together in a 1938 issue.

    Though your recording has been out on CD (on Tahra) I look forward to giving your transfer a recording too. -s

  4. err... that was supposed to read "give your recording a listen too." Squirrel is going to bed!!

  5. Thank'S! And where is 32-th Symphony K.319?

  6. Ditto on the Edwin Fischer recording of Haydn Symphony 104.

  7. Thanks for this one. The Mozart is beautifully 'weighted' and he gets the piece singing just right. But that Bach ricercar is something really special!! A delightful way to spend an hour - I'd recommend it to anyone!