LOTHAR: Schneider Wibbel Overture. FRANCK: Le Chasseur maudit. ZANDONAI: Serenata Medioevale. REZNICEK: Donna Diana Overture. STRAUSS: Sinfonia Domnestica, Op. 53.
Berlin State Orch, (Lothar/Franck), La Scala Orch/Carl Schuricht, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PASD 330 TT: 77:44

SMETANA: The Bartered Bride Overture. LISZT: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12. BRAHMS: Hungarian Dances 5 & 6. DVORÁK: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 "From the New World." Carnival Overture. Slavonic Dance No. 1 in C, Op. 46 No. l.
Hallé Orch/Sir Hamilton Harty, cond. Myra Hess and Hamilton Harty, pianos (Slavonic Dance)
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 331 TT: 65:36

DVORÁK: Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104. MIASKOVSKY: Cello Concerto, Op. 66.
Mstislav Rostropovich, cello; Czech Philharmonic Orch/Václav Talich, cond. (Dvorák); Philharmonia Orch/Sir Malcolm Sargent, cond. (Miaskovsky)
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 321 TT: 67:39

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G, Op. 58. Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat, Op. 73 "Emperor."
Clifford Curzon, piano; Vienna Philharmonic Orch/Hans Knappertsbusch, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 318 TT: 73:02

STRAVINSKY: Symphony in C. HANSON: Symphony No. 4, Op. 34 "Requiem." HARRIS: Symphony No. 7. HINDEMITH: Symphony in E flat. HARTMANN: Adagio from Symphony No. 2. HOVHANESS: Symphony No. 3, Op. 148.
NBC Symphony Orch (Stravinsky.Hanson/Hindemith); WDR Symphony Orch (Hartmann); St. Louis Symphony Orch (Harris); Symphony of the Air (Hovhaness); Leopold Stokowski, cond.
GUILD GHCD 2379/80 (2 disks) TT: 2:29:31
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Polish-born Carl Schuricht (1880-1967) was a highly-regarded conductor who led many major orchestras (including the Vienna Philharmonic with which he made a number of fine recordings) although he never held a major conducting position. Judging from the performances on this new CD, mances, Schuricht was a dynamic conductor who demanded and received terrific performances from orchestra not known for their virtuosity. The program opens with an oddity, the lively overture to the opera Schneider Wibble written in 1937 by Mark Lothar (1902-1985) and continues with a rousing performance of Franck's colorful symphonic poem. Both of these were recorded in Berlin in 1942. The rest of the recordings are with the La Scala Orchestra, the first a lovely work for cello and small orchestra by Zandonai, with Enzo Martinenghi, presumably the orchestra's principal, as soloist. It is remarkable this gorgeous music isn't played more often; there don't seem to be other commercial recordings of it although you can see a performance on YOUTUBE. One of the fastest performances you'll ever hear of the Donna Diana Overture follows, and the program ends with a stunning performance of Strauss's Sinfonia Domestica. The La Scala brass copies admirably with the score's demands. Mark Obert-Thorn's transfers are sheer perfection. Recommended!

The career of Irish-born Sir Hamilton Harty (1879-1941) was focused in England. A composer, pianist and organist as well as a conductor, Harty was chief conductor of Manchester's Hallé Orchestra from 1920-1933. A major figure in London's musical scene, he gave many important works their premieres or first London performances. Harty made a number of highly-regarded recordings, and here we have a varied collection recorded 1927-1933. Performances are vigorous and beautifully played by the superb orchestra. The New World's second movement is given a hasty reading, and for whatever reason, there is a cut of several bars before the final pages of Carnival. Mark Obert-Thorn's meticulous remastering has corrected numerous pitch problems, and the result is a splendid transformation of original disks. There is much orchestral excitement to be heard here.

Mstislav Rostropovi (1927-2007) made at least a half-dozen recordings of Dvorák's cello concerto, and he usually said after each, "this is my best," doubtless to promote sales. Now Pristine has issued one of his earliest (probably the second) recorded in 1952 with the Czech Philharmonic directed by Václav Talich, a combination hard to beat. The monophonic recording is well balanced and here sounds considerably superior to previous issues thanks to Andrew Rose's XR remastering. As a bonus, we have Miaskovsky's Cello Concerto, Op. 66 composed in 1944/45 taped in London 1956 for HMV with Sir Malcolm Sargent and the Philharmonia Orchestra. A definitive issue! This is an important issue.

Another memorable issue is the coupling of Beethoven's Fourth and Fifth piano concertos with Clifford Curzon and the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch. These have often been issued previously and currently are available on a modestly-priced Decca CD. However, on this new release they sound better than ever. Pristine's remastering can do nothing about the overly-resonant piano sound of the originals, but it does offer realistic "ambient stereo" for the mono recording of Concerto No. 4 which dates from April 1954, as well as the early stereo recording of the Emperor, recorded in June of 1957. Legendary performances, beautifully presented.

All of these Pristine Audio releases are available from PRISTINE AUDIO

Guild's Stokowski 2-disk set is a gem. It offers live performances of music Stokowski never recorded commercially, all in tremendously dynamic performances. What a superb conductor he was, always promoting then-new music. Stravinsky's symphony is from a broadcast Feb. 21, 1943; the following week's concert included the Hindemith symphony. Hanson's symphony was broadcast the following year, Jan. 2,. Other performances were the Harris symphony (first version) from St. Louis January 9, 1955, the powerful Hartmann Adagio with the WDR Orchestra May 25, 1955, and the Symphony of Hovhaness with the Symphony of the Air from Carnegie Hall Oct. 14, 1956. Peter Reynolds is credited with remastering, and he did an excellent job. The mono sound is remarkably fine for its age; the few touches of distortion really don't matter with recordings as important as these.

R.E.B. (April 2012)