BACH: Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F . EETHOVEN: Ebmont Overture.
Symphony No. 3 in E flat, Op. 55 'Eroica. BRAHMS: Symphony No. 3 in
F, Op. 90.
BEETHOVEN: Leonore Overture No. 3. Excerpts from The Creatures
of Prometheus. Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61.
HINDEMITH: Noblissima Visione. DEBUSSY:
Three Nocturnes. RAVEL: La Valse. MILHAUD:Prelude
BARTÓK: Concerto for Orchestra. PISTON: Symphony No. 3
Here are three major historic sets to delighht the serious collector, each featuriong legendaryr 20th Century conductor in important live performances.
It might seem redundant t to issue more Beethoven conducted by the legendary Otto Klemperer (1895 - 1973). His remarkable career, marred by serious health problems, has been well documented. And the recording world is grateful to Walter Legge and EMI beginning in 1954, a period when he made numerous recordings, in particular the symphonies and concertos of Beethoven. Nist of the symphonies represented his re-thinking of the scores often resulting in slow tempi. This new Pristine set (the first of two devoted to Klemperer/Philadelphia live performances) offers concerts from October 19, 1962 (Eroica). October 27, 1972 (Egmont/Bach), and November 3, 1962(Brahms). Klemperer seems to have again rethought his interpretations. These are mighty statements, but tempi are more standard. Full strings are used in the Bach, but clarity is maintained. Of course the famed orchestra plays perfectly. Producer Andrew Rose had access to highest-quality master tapes, and his XR reprocessing minimiuzes the dry acoustic of the Academy of Music. For Klemperer fans, this is an essential release albeit a rather pricey investment.
Pierre Monteux (1875 -1964) was an amiable giant among conductors. His accomplishments are incredible. He gave the world premieres of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, Petrushka, Debussy's Jeux and Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe. Monteux led the Boston Symphony (1918 - 1924), the Amsterdam Concertgebouw (1924-1934), Orchestre Symphonique de Paris (1929 - 1938), the San Francisco Symphony (1935 - 1952), and in 1961, at the age of 86, became conductor of the London Symphony! In addition, he conducted French repertory at the Metropolitan Opera. He also found time for teaching and his students include many well-known conductors. A remarkable musician indeed. I had the privilege of meeting him (very briefly) when he appeared as guest conductor of the Baltimore Symphony for a single performance January 22, 1958. The program: "Le Corsaire overture, Brahms Symphony No. 3, Creston's Symphony No. 2, and a suite from Der Rosenkavalier. I remember him saying during rehearsals, "Play out, let yourselves be heard!" The orchestra loved him, of course, as did the capacity audience. Monteux recorded profusely throughout his career including premiere recordings of many major works. On this admirable Pristine Audio series we hear performances at Tanglewood. From a concert July 25, 1958 we have the Debussy, Milhaud and Ravel; and from a concert August 9, 1958 we we have the Beethoven and Hindemith. Of particular interest is the prelude to Milhaud's incidental music for Aeschylean tragedy Les Euménide.s. L'Orestie. Seldom performed because of the vast forces involved, it is a rarity, but there is a complete recording on Naxos. This short excerpt begins quietly but soon enters a disturbed world of clashing chords and climaxes. The Debussy and Ravel works are Monteux specialties, La Valse here played brisker than I expected. And the Beethoven concerto is given an Olympian re3ading by American Berl Senofsky who had a distinguished if rather quiet career. He made few recordings; there is one of a live performance of Walton's violin concerto with the composer on the podium. Andrew Rose has done what can be done to restore the original concert recordings. Generally audio is excellent all things considered, but there is occasional distortion in loud passages, nothing of great consequence. I look forward to future issues in this fine series.
The third Pristine issue is of major importance. It contains two world premiere performances, Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, and Walter Piston's Symphony No. 3 in live concert recordings with Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony. The Bartók actually is one of a series of six concerts during December 1943. Fritz Reiner made the first commercial recording in 1946 with the Piston Sy Symphony for Columbia (ten years later he would make his famous stereo recording with the Chicago Synchrony for RCA). The second recording was made in 1948 with Eduard van Beinum and the Concertgebouw, receiving a Grand Prix du Disque. And since that time most conductors have recorded it. We are fortunate to now hear this masterpiece with the conductor who commissioned it. The Creston is another example of Koussevitzky's interest in music by American composers, an exciting presentation of this symphony that won a Pulitzer Prize. Producer Andrew Rose discusses the audio problems of both recordings, which have produced a highly satisfactory listening experience.
R.E.B. (March 2016)