Saturday, 21 June 2014

'one can hear the far too numerous twiddly bits'

Liszt: Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Themes S123 

Arthur de Greef, piano &
The Royal Albert Hall Orchestra
 conducted by Landon Ronald

HMV D523 & D528

(Matrix Nos. HO 4573af; Ho4574-2af; HO 4575af & HO 4576-3af)
Wednesday 27th October 1920

FLAC file 16bit [91Mb] or FLAC File 24bit [167Mb]
(If you are not familiar with FLAC I can recommend Foobar2000 player)

I have always had a fondness for Arthur de Greef's playing and don't mind posting something that has been reissued before. A few months ago APR produced a 3CD set of de Greef's recordings that included the 1927 electric remake of the 'Hungarian Fantasia.' This post is partly to supplement and advertise their reissue available here but also to test out an alternative method of making a transfer [more of which below]. I don't think I could add much to the excellent notes by Jonathan Summers for the APR issue that can be had here

The 1927 recording runs to 16m.12s. whereas the acoustic version is faster at 15m. There is in fact plenty of room left on three of the four sides so it was not a case of rushing the performance. The month before the recording de Greef had given a performance at the Proms with Henry Wood and the New Queen's Hall Orchestra on Saturday 11 September 1920.

Wood was contracted to Columbia and De Greef to HMV so there was no way they would have been able to make a recording together. The standard practise was for extended classical works to be issued over several months hence the numerical gap between the record numbers D523, issued in February, 1921, and D528 issued in March. In the May 1921 issue of Musical Times 'Discus' reviewed the records in his Gramophone Notes column :- 

'Another old friend turns up in Liszt's ' Hungarian' Fantasia, with de Greef at the pianoforte, and Landon Ronald and the Albert Hall Orchestra, H.M.V., two d.-s. records. The pianoforte tone is especially well reproduced - so well, in fact, that one can hear the far too numerous twiddly bits with patience. What a long while Liszt is getting under way in this work! One feels inclined to say, with Macbeth, 'Come, fellow, leave thy damnable faces, and begin.' Of these two records the first is the more enjoyable, not because it is a better record, but because the musical interest is on the whole greater. But the pair should be in the cabinet of all who want a particularly good sample of pianoforte-cum orchestra.'

I have taken a somewhat different approach to this transfer than others on the blog, the sound is slightly noisier but I hope it is also a lot clearer and more balanced. This 'new process' is a work very much in progress, so any comments on it would be appreciated. I have the usual version of FLAC file at 44.1Khz 16bit but the 24bit version is better sound a lot better with less surface noise, although the downside is it is almost twice a large.


  1. I must have been a Gramophone reviewer in a previous life! Thanks, Jols!


  2. I think Liszt's music is almost all twiddly bits, but I like this piece for some reason. Good reproduction - whatever you have done sounds good to me!

    1. Ta Buster
      Liszt players generally have more fingers than we mortals. Not one of his most important works but a show stopper none the less. Piano a bit bongy in the lower notes but I suspect they altered the mechanism a bit to suit the acoustic recording apparatus


  3. Thanks for posting this acousticabobble version -- it makes a nice appendix to th
    APR set.

    Mike in Plovdiv

  4. Thank you Jolyon for this: lovely detail and balance.

  5. Thanks, I love recordings of Arthur de Greef!
    !!! My blog 78 toeren klassiek has a new link:

  6. THANKS for all your unexpected and fantastic posts. So well documented too !! HAPPY HOLIDAYS from HKong !!!!