<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Russian ballet / Fritz Wunderlich / Monteux / Koiusevitzky

TCHAIKOVSKY: Swan Lake Ballet Suite (29:33). Sleeping Beauty BalletSuite (22:13). Suite from The Nutcracker (Royal Philharmonic Orch/Moldoveanu/Wordsworth/Maminmov (24:50). PROKOFIEV: Cinderella Ballet Suite (26:43).The Stone Flower Ballet Suite 19:38. . Romeo and Juiet Suite (32:08).(Novosiborsk Orch/Katz) KHACHATURIAN: Gayaneh Ballet Suite. (31:02). Spartacus Ballet Suite (Bolshoi Theater Orch/Sbvetlanov) (31:49).
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95409 (3 disks) 79:09 / 78:52 / 62:59

Music by Millöcker, Lortzing, Nicolai, Lehár, Johann Strauss, Fall, Künneke, Stolz, Spoliansky, and Mattes.
Fritz Wunderlich, tenor/Munich Radio Orch/Willi Mattes, cond.

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 36. STRAUSS: Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40.
Boston Symphony Orch/Pierre Monteux, cond.

HARRIS: SymphonyNo. 5 (1942). HILL: Symphony No. 1 in B flat, Op. 34 (1927). DIAMOND: Symphony No. 2 (1943)
Boston Symphony Orch/Serge Koussevitsky, cond.

This Brilliant Classics set of Russian ballet consists of excerpts from complete recordings, often with a somewhat odd group of selections. Each disk is filled to maximum, but there are numerous other recordings with superior performances, except possibly the two Khachaturian ballets conducted by Evgeny Svetlanov recorded in 2000. The rest cannot match most other recordings available. A budget issue, but of limited interest.

We are fortunate tenor Fritz Wundertlich made many recordings during his all too brief career. This site has mentioned many of his recordings (CD INDEX). Now we have some welcome additions to the catalog, a series of 16 selections from Munich radio broadcasts 1959 - 1965. Some of these are new to the Wunderlich discography. An appreciation of the tenor, in German and English is provided. No texts.

Pristine Audio continues their valuable series of historic broadcasts of the Boston Symphony, and here we have two more gems. Their Pierre Monteux series continues with these performances of Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 and Strauss's Ein Heldenleben, a broadcast from Tanglewood July 29, 1962. The vitality of these performances belies the fact the venerable conductor was 87 at the time. The Boston Symphony is at its virtuoso best, and Andrew Rose's audio restoration is superb.

The other Pristine reissue shows Serge Koussevitzky's interest in music of American composers, symphonies of Roy Harris, Edward Burlingame Hill, and David Diamond. Hill is the lesser-known of the three. Born in 1872 in Cambridgge to a prominent family , he was an educator as well as a musician. In 1928 he became a full professor at Harvard, and was well known as a teacher. His students included Leonard Bernstein, Elliott Carter and Virgil Thomson. Although he is considered to be a leader in development of American music in the first half of the 20th century, it is unfortunate that none of his music plays an important part. His Symphony No. 1, written in 1927, has three movements, is energetic but unmemorable. Little of his music has been recorded, and for good reason. Roy Harris's Symphony No. 5, written in 1942, and Diamond's Symphony No. 2, were broadcast during the world premiere concerts. Since that time neither work has attracted a substantial audience. Gerard Schwaaz recorded Symphony N o. 2 in Seattle. The Harris symphony has fared better on reordings with versions l by Marin Alsop with the Bouremouth Symphony and Robert Whitney and the Louisville Orchestra. This CD is of great historic interest as we hear first performances of three early American works. Andrew Rose has worked wonders with restoration from flawed original sources, even splicing in several missing sections of the Diamond where side-changes made this necessary.

R.E.B. (January 2017)