Classical CD Reissues II    
for January 2002 (Part 2 of 2)

Carl Schuricht: Unissued Recordings from RFG Archives and Suedwestfunk: WAGNER: Prelude and Love-Death from Tristan; Siegfried's Funeral March/MENDELSSOHN: Athalia Overture/REGER: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Mozart/Haydn: Cello Concerto in D/SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 8 in B Minor/BRUCKNER: Symphpny No. 9 in D Minor/BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat: Funeral March; Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92/J.C. BACH: Sinfonia in D, Op. 18, No. 4

Enrico Mainardi, cello/Stuttgart Radio-Symphony Orchestra/Berlin Grosses Radio-Orchestra/Reichsenders Orchestra, Berlin

Music & Arts CD-1094 4 CD 59:49; 50:45; 5603; 69:17

This expansive set celebrates the art of conductor Carl Schuricht (1880-1967) from the years 1937-52, with important repertory in good to excellent sound. While a few of these pieces have appeared on various (pirate) labels, the bulk make their debut, like his 1950 exciting rendition of Mendelssohn's formidable Overture to Athalia, Op. 74, a work hardly known except for the 'War March of the Priests' inscribed by Mengelberg three generations ago. Virtually all of the repertory enjoys Schuricht's lean, elastic approach, suave, pointed, but still capable of velocity and sensuality, much in Weingartner mold and even more richly textured.

The first two discs present sections from two specific concerts, those of 29 April 1950 and 5 November 1950, the latter's featuring cellist Enrico Mainardi in the old-standard version of Haydn's D Major Concerto. From that same evening comes Reger's ingenuous set of variants on Mozart's Sonata, K. 331 with its sonic patina lifted right out of Brahms. That Schuricht is a colossal Wagner interpreter is defined by both his Tristan excerpt, thoroughly in the Jochum/Knappertsbusch tradition, and the Gotterdammerung Funeral March from 19 June 1942, opening with an extended reference to its Rheingold origins. Particularly pointed is the 1952 SDR collaboration in Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony, a performance almost feline in its stealth and calculated attacks and dynamic retreats. While the 1937 inscriptions seem a bit muffled in comparison with the later records, the performances of Bach and Beethoven are brisk, of the lean-machine variety. The Bach utilizes a large ensemble, but Schuricht maneuvers his forces much in the manner of the later Beinum inscriptions, with concentration and verve, no rhythmic mannerisms.

Schuricht's Bruckner has come back in fits and starts, mostly on pirate or semi-commercial labels (like Urania and Archiphon). The Ninth in this set dates from 2 November 1951 and Th Stuttgart Radio-Symphony, the same ensemble that would answer Celibidache's very different requirements for 1980's Bruckner. Schuricht uses an eclectic edition of the score, having features of the original edition and the Loewe arrangement, with horn and tympani parts altered to fit Schuricht's dramatic conception. Having just reviewed the Kubelik Ninth for this installment of Audiophile Audition as well, the fluttering wings a la 'Himmel hoch' in the first movement saturate both performances. If Bruckner sings a most valedictory paean, the Beethoven thunders, even in 1937 sound, matching in intensity Furtwaengler's Beethoven from the same period.

If this set achieves anything at all, it makes me eager to hear more from Schuricht's vast legacy, a record achieved despite no permanent musical post: Music & Arts and Universal would do well to resurrect the VPO records as well as the EIAR (Italian Radio) discs Schuricht cut with luminaries like Kulenkampff, Mainardi, and Wilhelm Backhaus; as well I would like to enjoy the less spectacular but equally fascinating series Schuricht did with the Concert Hall label. The range and energy of this distinguished artist consistently command our attention.

--Gary Lemco


BEETHOVEN: Fidelio, Op. 72

Taken from a performance given in January, 1956, this (musically) fine inscription gives us a nice glimpse into the emergent artistry of soprano Birgit Nilsson, here accompanied by a native cast led by the immensely gifted Erich Kleiber (1890-1956). The supporting singers are so thoroughly comfortable in their respective roles-such as Frick's brooding Rocco and Schoeffler's resolute Don Pizzarro-that Nilsson is able to move fluidly into an ever-more-forceful characterization as the drama unfolds. The sound is muffled in much of the dialogue; so I emphasize the 'musical' qualities of the ensemble as transcending the strictly technical aspects of this off-the-air dubbing. The vocal quartet of "Mir ist so wunderbar" is excellent; the music adumbrates much of Mahler's sonority, given that he conducted it often enough. Schoeffler's threatening "Er sterbe! Doch er soll erst wissen" from Act II invokes a torrent in the ensuing ensemble, cuminating in the famous trumpet call to freedom in C. Act II, in fact, gathers sufficient momentum to stand alone as a tribute to Kleiber, et al. as an example of his art, if the Rosenkavalier and Le Nozze for Decca were not already proof of his abilities. Given the brevity of the second disc, we might have had an alternative performance-excerpt or a whole Beethoven symphony to fill out the side. Still, for admirers of the conductor, of Nilsson, and of the close-knit professionalism of this cast, the Opera D'Oro production is a good buy.

--Gary Lemco

 

Nicolai Malko - The Danish Connection

Nicolai Malko conducts The Danish State Broadcasting Orchestra and Philharmonia; Orchestra of London (in Russian Favorites, 1947-50)

Danacord 2 DACOCD 549/550 72:41; 74:28 (Distrib. Albany Music):

It was not so long ago that I wrote an extensive article for the Beecham Society on Nicolai Malko (1883-1961), after having had the pleasure of meeting his widow, Berthe Malko, in New York City and enjoying her piroshki and the fellow company of one diarist, Mr. Volkov, on a winter night of ­25 degrees below zero. Malko is among a host of conductors who worked for EMI after having migrated from Soviet Russia, when conditions in the late 1920's made it near impossible for him and other artists to accept tours outside the country. Remembered almost exclusively for his having premiered the Shostakovich First Symphony and the Miaskovsky Fifth, Malko had been a pupil of Felix Mottl, as well as an important personage in St. Petersburg, a former student of Glazounov, Liadov and Rimsky-Korsakov. His book of memoirs, A Certain Art, was a gift to me from Mme. Malko, and it contains many illuminating anecdotes of Malko's experiences in opera, ballet and the concert hall.

The present Danacord set complements a 1994 Italian 2-CD issue on Malko: on Musica Classica (MC 2011/12) from LogicaSiel. While each contains a Dvorak "New World" Symphony, the latter with the Philharmonia (Feb. 1956) is less expansive in scope than the earlier 1948 version with the Danish State Orchestra, an ensemble formed by Emil Holm to accommodate competing musicians for performance time. Malko became principal conductor of the Radio Orchestra around 1930, and he shared the building of the ensemble's discipline with another émigré, Fritz Busch. One of the pieces Malko programmed in his inaugural concert, Capriccio espagnol, appears in a 1947 inscription, and some lovely playing it is. The bulk of the Danish Radio recordings is devoted to Scandinavian and Russian music, with one excursion to Germany, Beethoven's Egmont Overture (1950) in a lithe performance akin to what we expect from Karl Boehm. For real fire from Malko, try his Nielsen's Maskarade Overture from 1947 with its bold rhythmic leaps. Two pieces by Svendsen, Festival polonaise, Op. 12 and Carnival in Paris, Op. 9 were entirely new to me. Having Stravinsky's Suite II (1947), with its teasing hints from Schubert, is a rarity. What remains of the Danish recordings is Tchaikovsky: Capriccio Italein, Op. 45, the Waltz from the C Major Serenade, and the big (Lilac Fairy) waltz from Sleeping Beauty.

The smattering of Russian classics with the Philharmonia is merely a delightful taste of some of the larger fare available, if only EMI or Testament would revive it. Here, we get excerpts from Khachaturian's Gayaneh, Glazounov's Raymonda, Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa, Liadov's little Baba-Yaga, Rimsky's Flight of the Bumble-Bee, and the Hopak from Moussorgsky's Sorochintsky Fair. While I enjoy a good "Sabre Dance" as well as the next guy, I miss the collaborations with Moura Lympany and Witold Malcuzynski, the Ippolitov-Ivanov Caucasian Sketches, the Tchaikovsky Fourth, and the Haydn Symphonies 92 and 100. Whether any of Malko's Grant Park concerts in Chicago was recorded is a mystery to me. Rather than mourn what we do not have, let us support those projects that may spur further endeavor. This is a fine tribute to some rare music and music-making by a relatively overlooked artist.

--Gary Lemco

HANDEL: Concerto Grosso in D Minor, Op. 6, No 10/BRUCKNER: Symphony No 9 in D Minor

Rafael Kubelik conducts Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Orfeo C550 011B 79:14 (Distrib. Qualiton):

This all D-Minor program originated on 6 June 1985, when the 71-year-old Rafael Kubelik (1914-1996) decided to include works of a similar affect; one can only speculate if Bruckner, like his Baroque predecessor, would have modulated to D Major at the conclusion of his work, had he completed it. Both Kubelik and Furtwaengler favored the middle concertos from Handel's Op. 6: Furtwaengler occasionally programmed No. 5, Klemperer recorded No. 4. Adolf Busch, of course, recorded the entire twelve (with piano continuo) in the 1930's. The third movement, "Air. Lento" in its brise-style 3/2 meter, forms the crux of the music, and Kubelik infuses a religious fervor into its step-like progressions. But no less heated is the ensuing Allegro with concertante violin. Wonderful accenting and a dark color mark the finale, whose D Major peroration still sounds nervous rather than secure.

Few orchestras are so naturally 'Bruckner' ensembles as the Bavarian Radio; the players have been nurtured on this music through Jochum, Keilberth, Knappersbusch, Schuricht and Kubelik innumerable times. Kubelik moves the ambiguous D Minor tonality to the A of the second thematic group with loving care, cellos and violas prominent. The third group, a dark laendler, has the pathos of a by-gone, agrarian world displaced by perilous forces. So, too, the Scherzo lacks any pastoral character and hops between 3/4 and 3/8, a nervous, almost hysterical romp in F-sharp Major. The finale, ceaselessly striving between Tristan's longing and a pacific E Major, carries us along in exalted fashion. Listen to those horns! Intimations of mortality in extraordinary performance and recorded sound. Attend the concert.

--Gary Lemco

Hommage a Rudolf Kempe (1910-1976): MENDELSSOHN: Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 56 "Scotch"/SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D. 944 "The Great"/WAGNER: Prelude to Lohengrin

Rudolf Kempe conducts Staatskapelle Dresden

TAHRA TAH 370-371 51:23; 47:26 (Distrib. Harmonia Mundi):

I recall hearing Rudolf Kempe in concert during the 1969-70 "Visiting Orchestra" series at Carnegie Hall, when he led the Royal Philharmonic in a program that included the Strauss "Four Last Songs" with Heather Harper. Both during the concert and after, in a brief interview in the Green Room, Kempe emanated the undemonstrative, subdued demeanor that hid a depth of intensity to which his musicians responded instinctively. Kempe had risen through the ranks to assume his first conducting assignment: he had been a principal oboe at the Dortmund Opera, and then for the Leipzig Gewandhaus under Paul Schmitz, who needed an assistant for a production of The Marriage of Figaro. By 1949 Kempe had succeeded Joseph Keilberth in Dresden, moving in 1954 to succeed Solti in Munich. In 1955 Kempe became the first German artist to lead the MET after the war, leading a famed Arabella. Kempe assumed the post at the Royal Philharmonic in 1961; by 1963 he likewise succeeded Rosbaud at the Zurich Tonhalle. Kempe had a catholic musical taste, although he generally avoided Baroque repertory. His Richard Strauss cycle for EMI is a monument of its kind. His 1960 Wagner Ring Cycle from Bayreuth has been revived on Melodram, as have many of his individual concerts. A great lover of the Strauss family, Kempe's Viennese excursions (like the "On Holiday" album from Testament) reveal a decidedly Parisian affect. Kempe died 11 May 1976 in Zurich. Karl Richter and Sergiu Celibidache did memorial concerts for him, the latter's playing the Brahms Requiem in 1981.

This Kempe tribute from TAHRA is not what had been planned originally: copyright problems infringed on the latter-day, live concerts; so TAHRA has resuscitated material from 1949-1952, licensed through Supraphon. The Lohengrin Prelude from 1949 palpably shimmers with conviction and superb woodwind sonorities. The interior lines for the 1950 Mendelssohn "Scotch" Symphony are equally lush, with vivid interplay in the liquid Adagio. How different Kempe's approach is from Klemperer's, though they both achieve heroic dimensions. The style is muscular, with strong north-German lines; perhaps Gunther Wand communicates something of this on one his better days. The recording is particularly pointed in capturing tympani, strings and winds. The felicity of energized ensemble catapults the Allegro vivacissimo to a whirlwind finale. The Schubert Ninth dates from December 1, 1950. The verve and swing of the opening movement lies somewhere between Mengelberg and Boehm, enjoying both clarity of line and rhythmic suppleness. Kempe is careful to maintain the sense that Schubert loves to proceed in dual metric pulsations. The Andante is expansive, and Furtwaengler cultists will note similarities to the latter's 1953/54 inscriptions of this work. I found the Scherzo and Trio under Kempe quite riveting. A highly potent, individual series of readings, well reproduced.

--Gary Lemco


Thomas Jensen conducts Scandinavian Classics, 1937-1949

Tivoli Concert Hall Orchestra (Henriques; Lange-Muller; Nielsen "Saul"; Hoffding; Tarp; Sibelius); Danish State Radio Orchestra (Riisager Little Overture; Concertino); The Royal Orchestra (Nielsen Little Suite; "Helios"; "The Mother"); Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra (Hartmann; Svendsen; Gade; Riisager)
Carlo Andersen, violin (Svendsen Romance); George Eskdale, trumpet (Riisager Concertino)
Thomas Jensen conducting

Danacord DACOCD 523/524 71:37; 72:05 (Distrib. Albany):

This is a fascinating set devoted to the under-renowned Thomas Jensen (1898-1963), a protégé of Carl Nielsen, a former cellist in the Danish Symphony when Sibelius premiered his 7th Symphony, who became a leading exponent of Scandinavian music, a broad section of which finds documentation in these discs. Lyricism and sweet restraint characterize most of the recordings offered here; what there is of Jensen's Sibelius symphonies has not resurfaced, but we get a febrile Finlandia from 1942, when patriotic feeling against fascism was high; also, a Valse Triste of innocent beauty, and the little Valse lyrique, Op. 96a, one of Sibelius' populist pieces composed around the time (1920) of the Sixth Symphony. From Jensen's master Nielsen the Op. 1 Little Suite for Strings has a breezy lilt; but the Helios Overture from 1942 is quite strong and bears comparison with that of Fritz Busch. The only other world-class composer represented here is Niels Gade, whose Op. 1 Echoes of Ossian is a combination overture/tone-poem in misty colors, delicately rendered in a 1942 inscription.

The second-greatest Norwegian composer is Johan Svendsen, and his relatively famous Romance, Op. 26 comes to us in a 1939 recording with Carlo Andersen, violin, a poised, touching rendition. The other noted soloist in this set is George Eskdale, who made a famed record of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto as well as Bach records with Adolf Busch. Here, he plays Riisager's 1933 Concertino for Trumpet and Strings, recorded in 1949, when he and Jensen seem to be in total agreement on style and dynamics. Most of the music was entirely new to me, like the "Mosaic" Suite (1940) by Svend Erik Tarp that sounds, as much of this music (especially Riisager ballet-suites and the Paradise Suite) does, like sea-shanties! Fini Henriques' Prelude to Voelund, the Smith has touches of Wagner; Hartmann's Triumphal March of the Nordic Gods sounds like bombastic Grieg or Halvorsen; Hoffding's suite after Hans-Chistian Andersen, "It's Perfectly True!" has a distinct Mendelssohnian charm. Peter Erasmus Lange-Mueller has a small piece called Prelude to "The Renaissance" (rec. 1942) based on the life of Tintoretto that utilizes a gondolier's song and harmonies not far away from Pfitzner's treatment of Palestrina. For the historic collector who is likewise musically adventurous.

--Gary Lemco


Knappertsbusch in Berlin - WAGNER: Parsifal-Prelude, Act I/BEETHOVEN: Coriolan Overture, Op. 62/SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 8 in B Minor "Unfinished"/BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor (Haas Ed.)

Hans Knappertsbusch conducts Berlin Philharmonic, 1942-1950

TAHRA 417-418 48:26; 56:12 (Distrib. Harmonia Mundi):

Hans Knappertsbusch (d.1965), notorious for his slow tempos and for his slack rehearsal methods, still had an innate power to move ensembles to glory. His tenure with the Berlin Philharmonic was relatively constant-albeit fitful, with interruptions from Hitler--up to and through then the war; then only twice, with cabals from Karajan. 'Kna" and Furtwaengler had a good relationship, with Furtwaengler's often joking about Knappertsbusch's slow tempi, musing on how further ahead he'd be in the same piece at any moment in a score. Some of the mainstream material in this excellent set has seen the light via Preiser, Music & Arts , and pirates. The brunt of this set derives from January 30, 1950, when Knappertsbusch offered two 'unfinished' symphonies, by Schubert and Bruckner. Could Kna sense that these were his valedictory swan-songs with this ensemble? There is a ferocious tension in both symphonies: forget what stereotypically passes for slow tempi, the Bruckner urges and pushes its message with a rhetorical impatience rare in any interpreter, the anachronistic Haas edition notwithstanding. If the resolution to the last movement, what Jochum called "Christmas," does not emerge, it is still the Epiphany. This is heartfelt, earthbound Humanity's striving for grace. So, too, the Schubert has a demonic urgency quite startling in Knappertsbusch.

The earliest recording (1942) is of the Parsifal Prelude to Act I, a score Kna knew better than anyone, having left us thirteen complete recordings of the entire opera. The Coriolan dates from November 6, 1950, a dark performance, not so hysterical as Furtwaengler's 1943 inscription, but hardly tender. We can literally hear Kna shaping the phrases, mouthing the subdued drumbeats at the finale. To the Knappertsbusch collector this set certainly calls; but any Bruckner enthusiast will covet this Ninth, which is superior to many 'correct' versions of musical pablum.

--Gary Lemco


The Cor de Groot Collection 2: The Early Recordings - SCHUMANN: Papillons, Op. 2/BEETHOVEN: Appassionata Sonata; "Emperor" Concerto

Willem Mengelberg conducts Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam
APR 5612 72:46 (Distrib. Albany):

Pianist Cor de Groot (1914-1993) was one of Holland's musical treasures, a natural virtuoso who excelled in Beethoven, Ravel, Schumann and Liszt, whose many recordings for Dutch Philips have yet to be resurrected. This second volume (APR 5611 is devoted entirely to Ravel) of his work includes one private tape, that of a 1937 Beethoven F Minor Sonata whose original acetates were in poor shape, but whose significance (perhaps de Groot's first inscription, for his own use) musically is undeniable. It is a freewheeling, breathless account, much in the Horowitz or Moiseiwitsch tradition, rife with nervous energy, sonority to burn. Despite obvious pops and swish-both the second and third movements' openings take a real beating--the recording manages to convey the sweep and power, the 'steeplechase mentality'of this young enthusiast. The opening selection, Schumann's Papillons suite (taken from a 1942 Odeon inscription), is so infectious and charismatic, it may well supplant the Casadesus version that has remained my personal favorite.

The big gem in this collection is the radio transcription of Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto with Willem Mengelberg from May 9. 1942, a performance formerly available only on Holland's "Q" Disc label. This is the only surviving Beethoven piano concerto with the famed conductor, the only surviving Emperor with de Groot. Even those opening baton taps at the beginning are precious: would Music & Arts had kept them from the second movement of the Bruch G Minor with Bustabo! From de Groot's loving, lingering progression at the outset, the explosive sweep of Mengelberg's orchestra carries the tutti in broad splashes of color, full of his usual rhythmic license, the swoops of portamento just prior to the soloist's re-emergence in movement one. The beauty of piano tone is remarkable; one would be prone to credit this performance to Michelangeli. Each new musical period seems to gather momentum from the last. Why go on in this manner? Buy the disc and re-discover why you fell in love with this music in the first place. Emphatically recommended.

--Gary Lemco

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 "Emperor";Piano Sonata No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 10, No.1; Piano Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111/BRAHMS: Piano Quartet in G Minor, Op. 25; Piano Sonata No. 3 in F Minor ,Op. 5; Intermezzo in B Minor, Op. 119, No. 1

Conrad Hansen, piano

Karl Boehm conducts RIAS Symphony Orchestra; Hansen Trio and Ernst Doberitz, viola (in Brahms, Op.25)

Musicaphon M 56845 75:31; 76:58 (Distrib. Qualiton):

Conrad Hansen (b. 1904) is something of a living legend to connoisseurs of the piano, an artist and pedagogue fashioned directly in the spirit of Edwin Fischer who made a life of music in Detmold, in Luebeck, and in Hamburg, leaving only the barest of recorded archives. For the Furtwaengler cult, the 1943 radio-broadcast Beethoven G Major with Hansen has become a moment of particular glory. That same year, Hansen made a Tchaikovsky B-flat Concerto with Mengelberg, uncharacteristically with the Berlin Philharmonic. Beyond these, there have been few testaments to his art, excepting the appearance on Italian LP of a D Minor Brahms Concerto with Fricsay, yet to be reissued.

That there are significant, unearhed materials with Hansen is certified by this set, released through the auspices of the ZEIT foundation, devoted to great Hamburg citizens.

The Beethoven and Brahms in this collection date 1952-1965 and have the artist's own approval. Hansen's early solo work in Berlin and Paris came to the attention of Edwin Fischer, who personally oversaw the younger man's development. Forming a piano trio with Erich Roehn (no less noted for his Beethoven with Furtwaengler) and Arthur Troester, Hansen gave numerous concerts much as Fischer, Kulenkampff (later Schneiderhahn) and Mainardi were doing at the same time. After the Second World War, Hansen found himself homeless, and he implored conductor Eugen Jochum (then in Hamburg) for a concert and a position. Subsequently, Hansen played with Schmidt-Isserstedt, Keilberth, and Jochum, then establishing, in 1946, NorthWest German Music Academy, where Hansen taught and administered until 1960. At the Hamburg Academy, Hansen taught until 1984; back in 1960, Edwin Fischer had warned Hansen's second wife, "Be sure he plays often and does not teach too much!"

Hansen's subtle refinement has much of the Fischer influence, and the "Emperor" Concerto from 1952 Berlin is a fine example of the subdued luster Hansen could bring to a big work, where his silken pianissimos and shapely roulades find massive counters in Boehm's huge expositions, a performance reminiscent of the long-evasive Backhaus/Krauss performance on London Decca. The C Minor Sonata, Op. 10 (a work Fischer did not record) has immediacy and direction, extremely fluid transitions between dynamics and musical periods. The big C Minor Sonata has power and finesse to spare, and those who relish Michelangeli and Haskil in this work will be pleasantly rewarded by Hansen's innigkeit, his introspective search among the affects. The Brahms performances 1959-65 are no less gratifying. Curious that both Hansen and Glenn Gould favor the B-minor Intermezzo from Op. 119 as a study in graded dynamics. The Piano Quartet from June 1959 enjoys a grand line, much in the style of the Demus/Vienna Konzerthaus-Quartett inscriptions of the late 1950's. The F Minor Sonata (July 1960) again seems to balance sprawling emotions with personal moments of intimate reverie, a performance perhaps closer to Cortot than to the German style.

Reading through the extensive booklet that accompanies this set, I note that "building" and "synthesis" recur as motifs in Hansen's recollections, reminders of his bouts with Hegel and with Cassirer. Like his contemporaries Wilhelm Kempff and Erik Then-Bergh, Hansen is a "thinker's pianist," a penetrating artist of great power, available previously only to the select few. This set will hopefully win him more popular acclaim.

--Gary Lemco

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