McDONALD: Violin Concerto (1943). (Alexander Hillsberg, violin. Philadelphia Orch/Eúgene Ormandy. Elegy and Battle Hymn (1942) George Newton, bass-baritone. Indianapolis Symphony Orch/Fabian Sevitzky, cond. Symphony No. 3, "A Tragic Cycle." (Lamentations of Fu Hsuan ) (1935). Emelina De Vita, soprano. Philadelphia Orchestra Chorus. Musical Art Society of Camden. Philadelaphia Orch/Eugene Ormanmdy, cond. Builders of America (Washington and Lincoln). Claude Rains, narrator. Columbia Chamber Orchesstra and Chorus/Harl McDonald, cond.

BRAHMS: Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a. Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53 (Enid Szantfio, contralto). Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 (Clifford Curzon, piano). Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80. Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op. 56. (Rosanna Carteri, soprano. Boris Christoiff, bass)
PRISTINE AUDIIO PASC 494 (2 disks) TT: 2:31:33

BERLIOZ: Roman Carnival Overture. WAGNER: Transformation Music from Act I of Parsifal. Siegfried Idyll. MOZART: Marriage of Figaro Overture. Serenade No. 13 in G, K. 525. HANDEL: Concerto Grosso Op. 6 No. 12. WEBER: Der Freischüdtz Overture.

SHOSTAKOVICH: Two arias from Lady Macbeth of Mzensk. MUSSORGSKY-MARKEVITCH: Six Songs. STRAVINSKY: Le sacre du printemps.
Galina Vishnevskaya, soprano. London Symphony Orchestra/Igor Markevitch, cond,.


Pristine continues their admirable resurrection of early recordings by Harl McDonald with thie third and final disk that features the works listed above. This site already has mentioned Volume I (REVIEW) and Volume II (RTEVIEW). This disk consists primarily of live recordings of works not recorded commercially. The Violin Concerto is a pleasant rerivative work played perfectly by Alexander Hillsburg, concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, a broadcast from March 17, 1945. Next we hear a world premiere broadcast, Elegy and Battle Hymn for baritone solo, with a texxt relating the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and reteribution for it. The composer later used this in bhis in his symponic suite My Cluntry at War. The final work is a rather pompous patriotic work, a cantata called Builders of Freedom for narrator, chorus and orchestra based on by Edward Shelton focusiung on two presidents, Washiungton and Li ciol Lin coln . Claude Raiuns does what can be done for this. This is the onlgy studio recording on the disk, and it is the last recording made by Mc Donald. He played an important part in early 20th Century American music and was fortunate to be prominent on the musical scene as mentioned in our review of Volume I intnhis series. Thamnks to Pristine and producer Martk Obert-Thorn who did his usual expert restoration, for making possiblew this glimpse of America's earlty music scene.

Pristine concludes their series of Bruno Walter early recordings with this disk of pre-war European performances, disks made 1923 - 1938. It begins with Roman Carnival Overture by a composer usually not associated with the conductor. Imagine about a fourth of the Berlin Philharmonic in a small room placed around a large recording horn, and this is what we hear—a dim, undefined, bass-bare audio picture that does not impress except as an oddity. Other somewhat later recordings are much superior from a sound standpoint, and it is interesting to hear the brief Transformation Scene Parsifal excerpt with its clanging bells. Walter manages to make the Paris orchestra in the Freischütz overture sound non-French. Overall, I found little of interest here except for the conductor's staunchest admirers who wish to experience these early recordings. Audio producer Mark Obert-Thorn did everything possible to extract music from these ancient recordings.

The other issue offers Brahms performances: a two-disk set of major works from various sources. With the New York Philharmonic the Piano Concerto No. 1 (January 28, 1841, and the Alto Rhapsody (Nov. 9, 1941. From the Hollywood Bowl we have Academic Festival Overture and Haydn Variations (July 10, 1947, and from RAI we have the German Requiem(April 16, 1952). All present Walter at the height of his career, dynamic buyt sensitive interpretations indeed, usually on the brisk side. His soloists are are major, orchestral playing of the highest order. The concerto is particularly dramatic and somewhat hectic. Sonically these disks are a mixed bag. Producer Andrew Rose surely did what could be done in restoration working with flawed original sources. Often there is distortion, and piano sound is clangy in loud passages. Bruno Walter fans surely will wish to investigate this issue in spite of audio problems.

Igpr Markevitch (1912 - 1985) originally wanted to be a composer but few of his works have captured attention of audiences or recording companies (about a dozen of his works have single recordings). However, as a conductor he was highly respected and made many recordings, some before the stereo era, including his first recording (with the Philharmonia Orchestra) of Le sacre du printemps. He recorded profusely for various labels including all of the Tchaikovsky symphonies. Every live performance that shows up is of interest, and here Pristine offers excerpts from a concert in Usher Hall at the Edinburgh Festival August 26, 1962 recorded by the BBC (REVIEW). Famed Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya was at her best in the two Shostakovich arias and the conductor's orchestrated versions of six Mussorgsky Songs (Cradle Song, The Magpie, Night, Where Art Thou, Little Star?, The Ragmuffin, and The Dnieper). The concert originally also contained Tchaikovsky's Francesca da Rimini, but on this issue it was not included because of length. However, it is available on-line on Pristine's site. This has previously been issued on BBC Legends (REVIEW) , and by eliminating the two Shostakovich arias they were able to include Francesca. Andrew Rose did his usual excellent job of remastering the original source, but this sonically was not one of the better BBC recordings.

R.E.B. (March 2017)