SCHOENBERG: Gurrelieder. DUBENSKY: The Raven. HINDEMITH:
Kammermusik No. 2 Op. 36 No. 1
MAHLER: Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor
BACH: Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F BWV 1046. BRUCKNER: Synohony
No. 6 in A
Leopold Stokowski attended the Munich premiere of Mahler's Symphony No.8 in 1910, and in 1916 gave the American premiere of the work in Philadelphia. He also attended the Vienna 1913 premiere of Schoenberg's Gurrelieder (which was conducted by Franz Schreker), and gave the American premiere in Philadelphia, three performances, April 8, 9 and 11, 1932. Because of he number o performers, the concerts were given in Philadelphia;s Metropolitan Opera House which could more easily accommodate them. It is remarkable that RCA decided to record it. The first performance was apparently unprepared both from performance and technical standards. The second performance was recorded on the then new 33 1/3 rpm disks, and the third performance was recorded on 27 78-rpm disks. Mark-Obert Thorn has performed a great service for collectors by restoring this important performance in remarkably satisfactory audio. Balance is excellent considering that these recordings were made nine decades ago. We also have two other Stokowski rarities, Arcady Dubensky's setting for speaker and orchestra of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven as well as Hindemith's Kammermusik No. 2 with pianist Eunice Norton as soloist, both recorded December 1932. A month after the premiere of Gurrelieder Stokowski, with pianist Sylvan Levin, recorded a discussion of Gurrelieder. This is a major issue for collectors Thank you Pristine Audio!
Pristine Audio continues their admirable series of performances conducted by Jascha Horenstein. Of particular interest are the Mahler recordings. They already have issued the live 1959 BBC LSO performance of Symphony No. 8 (REVIEW). They also have issued symphonies 1, 3 and 9, and two recordings of Symphony No 5, one with the Berlin Philharmonic from 1961, the other a 1958 studio recording with the London Symphony. Now we have another performance of this symphony, a live October 16, 1968 with the Gothenburg Symphony. Horenstein had led four concerts with the newly-organized Swedish orchestra, and the Gothenburg Orchestra is inspired by him. No question that in spite of their expertise, the best-played is the 1961 Berlin version, but collectors surely will welcome this opprtunity to hear the Maestro's interpretation, which turned out to be his final performance of the work. Pristine already has issued Horenstein's 1954 recording of the six Bach Brandenburg Concertos, and now we can experience the first recorded during a rehearsal December 1968. It is a lively performance in every way, and very well remastered by Andrew Rose. And here we also can enjoy Horenstein's interpretation of Bruckner's Symphony No 6, a bucolic, light-hearted score far removed from the intensity and grandeur of the composer's other late symphonies. A welcome issue!
R.E.B. (December 2020)