Vital Signs

The Art of Ignaz Friedman

The digitalization of recorded sound proceeds apace, and one of the best results is the refurbishment of old recordings. The Edison cylinders and 78's of our grandparents' and great-grandparents' world are being processed into compact discs, saving space, time, and—best of all—preserving the music of worlds fast fading into oblivion.

Taking the advice of the fellow who told me to put my money in CDs, I have found that what was true with the old technology is true for the new. There's so much indispensable musicmaking from two and three generations ago that we are often justified in ignoring contemporary hype about performance—and even sound. There are some things that just don't get any better.

I have in mind various vocal and violin and orchestral performances from fifty and sixty years ago. And I think too of "the Golden Age of Pianism," when Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Leopold Godowsky, Moriz Rosenthal, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Josef Hofmann, and Alfred Cortot graced the stages of this country and the world. I have not omitted the name of Ignaz Friedman, of course, but rather singled it out for a special citation.

The recent release of "Ignaz Friedman: The Complete Solo Recordings 1923-1936" on the Pearl label is a cause not only for rejoicing but for acquisition (Pearl IF 2000; 4 CD boxed set; imported from England by KOCH International). This gathering of...

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