CLASSIC CD. Sauer Vol.2

March 1999

A tribute to vanished elegance

SAUER Etudes and Valses, Vol. 2
Oleg Marshev (piano) / Danacord DACOCD 488 / 72:36 DDD 

Emil Sauer (1862-1942), pupil of Liszt and virtuoso extraordinary, was also a composer of high merit, writing in many forms, large and small. This programme offers a judicious selection of the concert studies and waltzes which he composed throughout his adult life.

Oleg Marshev brings appropriate virtuosity and swagger to the studies, reminded us that such a style was essential for the adequate realization of such vintage fare. All 16 tracks offer pleasure to the ear. The music never emulates the poetic depth which Chopin brought to such forms, but it often recalls Liszt in its unashamed bravura. I particularly like the staccato study and the one for the left hand alone (more details?). The waltzes recall the salon rather then the concert hall but, played as they are here with grace and elegance, they sound well enough.

When Sauer composed the music, the age of the composer-pianist was drawing to a close, the curtain seeming to fall with Rachmaninov and Britten (although there is still composer-pianist Thomas Adès — Ed). Sauer was a lover of the Viennese scene and this well-recorded programme has more than a hint of nostalgia. Collectors will relish so tasteful a reminder of an age now buried beneath the tragedy of the Hapsburgs.

Geoffrey Crankshaw