Monday, October 24, 2011

The Composer as Accompanist

John Ireland
Back in 2008 I offered two different recordings featuring composers as piano accompanists in their chamber works.  One of these was John Ireland (1879-1962), who made at least two such recordings of which I am aware.  One was of his First Violin Sonata, with Frederick Grinke, for Decca in 1945.  This has turned up on a Dutton CD, but I am unaware of any subsequent release of the other recording, that of the Cello Sonata with Antoni Sala, with, as a filler, a solo piano piece by Ireland, which I present here:

Ireland: Cello Sonata in G minor (1923)
Antoni Sala, cello; John Ireland, piano
Recorded October 25, 1928
Ireland: April (1925)
John Ireland, piano
Recorded February 18, 1929
English Columbia L 2314 through L 2317, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 59.62 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 26.73 MB)

I know very little about Antoni Sala, other than that he was Spanish and was the cellist on a fine Parlophone recording of the Arensky Piano Trio, Op. 35, with Eileen Joyce and Henri Temianka, which turned up some years ago on a Biddulph double CD set devoted to Temianka.

Walter Piston
There could hardly be imagined a more different musical idiom than that of the other composer-pianist whom I present here, Walter Piston (1894-1976), in one of his very rare appearances on records as a performer.  Here he accompanies Louis Krasner in his Violin Sonata, a recording which appeared only a month before Krasner's famous recording of the Berg Violin Concerto, which Krasner commissioned:

Piston: Sonata for Violin and Piano (1939)
Louis Krasner, violin; Walter Piston, piano
Recorded November 24, 1939
Columbia Masterworks set MX-199, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 39.01 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 21.22 MB)

This recording was reviewed in the TIME magazine issue of August, 1941, where Piston is described as an "atonalist."  He was hardly that!  Wonder if the review had him mixed up with Berg?

Columbia had two sets of music by Piston on its catalogue during the 78-rpm era; here's the other one:

Piston: String Quartet No. 1 (1933) and
Cowell: Movement for String Quartet (Quartet No. 2, 1934)
Dorian String Quartet
Recorded September 27, 1939
Columbia Masterworks Set M-388, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 55.52 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 27.23 MB)

The cellist in the Dorian String Quartet was the 23-year-old Bernard Greenhouse; the other members were Alexander Cores and Harry Friedman, violins, and David Mankovitz, viola.


  1. Thanks Bryan - rare and wonderful material.

  2. Bryan,

    The Piston is a great find as are the other works you posted. I found this page through a websearch for the Piston sonatina for violin & harpsichord and was delighted that, even though it wasn't quite what I was looking for, it's a very good performance of an interesting work.

    FWIW, I met Krasner several decades ago and had the sheer joy of playing the violin he owned after the Guadagnini he owned when he did this recording: the "Dancla" Strad from 1710, which he'd bought from Milstein

  3. More Temianka here: