Classical Reissue Reviews
MOZART: Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major; Clarinet Concerto in A Major; Wind Serenade in B-flat Major, K. 361–excerpts; Brief talk on Mozart by Talich – Jiri Novak, violin/Vladimir Riha, clarinet/Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/ Vaclav Talich – Suprahon
Published on December 13, 2007
K. 622; Wind Serenade in B-flat Major, K. 361–excerpts; Brief talk on Mozart by Talich – Jiri Novak, violin/Vladimir Riha, clarinet/Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/ Vaclav Talich
Supraphon Talich Special Edition 15 SU 3835-2, 79:18 (Distrib. Qualiton) ****:
Mozart recordings dating from 1954 and 1955 under the direction of the legendary Vaclav Talich (1883-1961) provide the unity of musical effect for this marvelous restoration. I have often noted my fondness for Jiri Novak (b. 1924) of the Smetana Quartet and his special playing (29-31 March 1955) of the D Major Concerto, whose second movement Andante cantabile he takes at refreshed, brisk, walking pace. The two outer movements enjoy a galant, perhaps slightly academic gait, but thoroughly stylistic. Novak’s tone is razor sharp, his attacks buzz and his rounded melodic phrases capture the lyric impulse of Mozart’s nineteenth year to perfection.
The Clarinet Concerto with Professor Riha (22-23 November 1954) first came to my attention only by its second movement, the lovely, even mystical Adagio, appearing solo on a Supraphon LP entitled Mozart in Prague. The opening movement proves nobly expansive, broad in tempo and sonic patina, akin to the valediction we hear in the last piano concerto, K. 595. The woodwinds bubble with leftover kernels from The Magic Flute. Riha commands a natural fluency and warmth of articulation, a sweet, buoyant optimism that quite pervades the entire work. The Rondo cavorts and gambols with glib pleasure, largesse in every phrase, both in the solo and in the elegantly responsive orchestra.
Talich arranged four movements of the Gran Partita for live broadcast (17 November 1954): Largo: Allegro molto, Romanza: Adagio, Thema con variazioni, and Rondo: Allegro molto. Melody and muscle collaborate in delicately balanced alignments, vigorous and splendidly intoned. What is interesting is that Talich had commissioned Nobel Prize poet Jaroslav Seifert (1901-1986) to write a series of rondeaux entitled Mozart in Prague to serve as interludes between movements. The Communist takeover annihilated the planned union of music and poetry.
The all-too-brief chat by Talich (17 November 1954) about Mozart to a youth group repeats Mozart’s own words that “it is the heart which makes a man noble.” Talich admonishes his youthful charges to consider the whimsical Gran Partita in this light, to bear in mind “the spheres of nobility.”
– Gary Lemco