Wilhelm Backhaus (1884–1969) left a 60-year recorded legacy which began in 1908, but though known particularly for Beethoven and Brahms in his later years, he performed a much wider repertoire before the war (as seen on the companion set APR6026) and the four sonatas and two concertos included here are the totality of his early Beethoven output. These are nevertheless important recordings – the ‘Emperor’ concerto was only the second ever recording and the first recorded by the ‘electric’ process. The 4th became an instant classic and still stands high among recorded versions. The sonatas benefit from the spontaneity of youth – the didactic and gruff presentation which occasionally afflicts Backhaus’s later complete sonata cycles is little in evidence here.
Three of the sonatas were issued with Bach ‘fillers’ and we have included these here to reveal yet another side of Backhaus’ musicianship.
Beethoven, Ludwig van:
Piano Concerto No 4 in G major, Op 58 recorded September 1929 & March 1930
Piano Concerto No 5 in E flat major, Op 73 ‘Emperor’ recorded January 1927
Sonata No 8 in C minor Op 13, ‘Pathétique’ recorded January 1927
Sonata No 14 in C sharp minor Op 27 No 2, ‘Moonlight’ recorded November 1934
Sonata No. 26 in E flat major, Op 81a, ‘Les Adieux’ recorded November 1934
Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111 recorded May 1937
Bach, Johann Sebastian:
Prelude and Fugue No 1 in C major, BWV846 (Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1) recorded May 1937
Prelude and Fugue No 22 in B flat minor, BWV867 (Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1) recorded November 1934
Pastorale from Christmas Oratorio BWV248 (arr. Clarence Lucas) recorded November 1934