RAVEL: Concerto for the Left Hand. CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F
minor, Op. 21. SAINT-SAÉNS: Piano Concerto No. 4 in C minor, Op 44.
MENDELSSOHN: Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49. SCHUMANN: Piano Trio
No. 1 in D minor, Op.63
TCHAIKOVSKY: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35. Melodie Op. 42 No.
3. LALO: Symphon espagnole, Op. 21. CHOPIN: Waltz in C# minor, Op.
64 No. 2. BRAHMS:
Hungaiarian Dance No. 1. SARASATE: Romanza andaluza No. 1. ZARZYCKIM: Mazurka
in G, Op. 26,
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: The Tale of Tsar Saltan
The first volume in Pristine's series of concerto recordings by Alfred Cortot is a treasure! Many years ago I had heard his recording of Chopin's Concerto No. 2 and several times took the streetcar from south Chicago downtown to the big Lyon and Healy music store where I could listen to the 4 78 rpm disks. Listening booths were provided for that purpose, and on several visits I replayed this recording, amazed at Cortot's performance. And now, thanks to Pristine, I can again experience it, and without surface noise and scratches. This recording was made in London with an unidentified orchestra July 8, 1935 with John Barbirolli conducting—he already had recorded this concerto with Arthur Rubinstein in 1931. The Ravel Left Hand Concerto was with Charles Munch and the Paris Conservatory Orchestra in May1939. By today's standards, it is a rather odd reading with some unusual tempo changes. Another gem is the Saint-Saëns Concerto No. 4, a grand, big-scale performance of great style, with Munch and the unidentified orchestra offering Gallic support; this recording was made in London July 9, 1935. All of these recordings were issued on Naxos in fine transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn, all reviewed on this site. Andrew Rose's mew transfers are perfection, and the XR remastering brings new life into these major recordings.
Cortot also is featured on another Pristine CD collaborating with violinist Jacques Thiband and a Pablo Casals in piano trios of Mendelssohn and Schumann, both recorded in Queen's Hall Studio in London in 1927-1928. At that time, the trio had been performing together for about two decades, and these elegant performances could hardly be bettered. The EMI engineers did remarkably good work in capturing the three instruments, and again Andrew Rose's technical digital expertise has produced a rewarding listening experience from recordings made more than eight decades ago.
Jewish-Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman (1882 - 1941) \who gave his first concert tour when only 11, was a major artist of his time, praised by Toscanini, Furtwängler and Bruno Walter. He gave numerous concerts, and played in most major music center to the highest acclaims. His performance of the Brahms concerto was praised highly by the composer. In 1937, a year before the Aunschluss, he left Germany and refused to perform there again. In 1935 he helped found the Palestine Symphony which later became the Israel Philharmonic. Huberman, who was highly temperamental, recorded profusely; some of which already been issued on Pristine. Their latest CD contains two major recordings, the Tchaikovsky concerto from December 1928 with William Steinberg and the Berlin State Opera Orchestra. It is one of the most unusual performances you'll ever hear of this showing the violinist's unique style and brilliant technique. Also featured is the Lalo Symphonie espagnole (the four movement version) with the Vienna Philharmonic directed by George Szell recorded in June 1934. This, too, is an extraordinary masterful performance. The CD is filled with shorter works in which Huberman is accompanied by his long-time associate, Siegfried Schultze. Mark Obert-Thorn's remastering is excellent, and he has tamed the excessive resonance of the Lalo. An outstanding release!
The full name of Rimsky-Korsakov's 11th opera is The Tale of Tsar Saltan, of his Son the Renowned and the Mighty Bogytar Prince Gvidon Saltanovich and of the Beautiful Princess-Swan but it usually is known (for good reason) as The Tale of Tsar Saltan. Based on a fairy-tale poem by Alexander Pushkin. the convoluted plot involving a Tsar whose bride supposedly gives birth to a monster. Not true, actually he is Prince Gvidon. After the two are set adrift in a barrel, the Prince saves the life of a swan, a magnificent city appears and Gvidon is proclaimed its Tsar. For his travels, he becomes a bumble-bee and we hear the famous Flight of the Bumble-Bee. The three wonders on the island, vividly described. Often orchestral excerpts are given in concert, but the complete opera will be new for most listeners—and it is a grand affair. This recording made in Zagreb in .1958 issued on Philips LPs. Sound is excellent, perhaps a big undefined in bass, but balance is good, sound clear. 17 tracks are provided, but there is no libretto. It would have been helpful had there been at least a synopsis of each track. This is a fascinating addition to the catalog, restoration of an important recording.
R.E.B. (June 2015)