“It is always a joy to play upon a Steinway - the piano which becomes completely a part of the artist's interpretation. Whenever I play upon a Steinway, the superb qualities of this glorious instrument are recognized.”
Robert Casadesus (1899-1972) was a renowned 20th-century French pianist and composer. He was the most prominent member of a famous musical family, being the nephew of Henri Casadesus and Marius Casadesus, husband of Gaby Casadesus, and father of Jean Casadesus.
A product of the school of French pianism, his style of playing was classical and restrained with a very delicate approach to melody and line. He is especially noted as an interpreter of Mozart. Among his recordings are those of the complete piano music of Ravel (for which he was awarded the Grand Prix de l'Academie Charles Cros and the Grand Prix de l'Academie du Disque), and the Beethoven Violin Sonatas with Zino Francescatti. The Bell Telephone Hour (a fine arts-related television series broadcast on NBC for many years) produced a one-hour television film, in 1967, on Robert, Gaby and their son Jean, titled "The First Family of the Piano."
Casadesus was particularly known for his recordings of Mozart concertos. He recorded Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat with John Barbirolli and the New York Philharmonic in 1941. Later, Casadesus made LP recordings of a number of Mozart's piano concertos with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra, often featuring his own cadenzas. Casadesus was joined by his wife Gaby and their son Jean in recordings of Mozart's concertos for two and three pianos, accompanied by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy.
He also made recordings of four of Bach's concertos for two and three keyboards, issued by Columbia, under the batons of Eugene Ormandy, Pierre Dervaux, and Edmond de Stoutz. Of Beethoven's five concertos, Casadesus recorded the First, Fourth, and Fifth, the last two multiple times and the Fourth with his own cadenzas. He also recorded several Beethoven sonatas, for both solo piano and for violin and piano, with his frequent recording partner Zino Francescatti.
Casadesus was also particularly known for his recordings of French repertoire by composers such as Rameau, Chabrier, Fauré, Debussy, and Ravel. In 1951, Casadesus made the first integral recording of the complete solo piano works by Ravel on three LPs for Columbia. He also recorded French works for four hands and two pianos with his wife Gaby.
Casadesus' recorded output includes works by Scarlatti, Schubert, Schumann, and Chopin, as well as Manuel de Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain. Casadesus also recorded a number of his own compositions.
In The Art of the Piano, David Dubal writes of Casadesus: "he became the absolute French pianist, his country's finest. Casadesus embodied the qualities of Gallic balance, unforced sound, style, and precision of technique. His sound was crisp, dry, and sparkling, like a vintage champagne. Casadesus was a sophisticated musician, whose pianism was phenomenally supple. His range was wide and his use of the pedals was simply astonishing."