MENGELBERG - Columbia Recordings, Volume II
KOUSSEVITZKY CONDUCTS SIBELIUS
FRITZ BUSCH CONDUCTS BEETHOVEN
ARTUR RODZINSKI - Early Recordings
This Mengelberg set is a treasure as it contains superb new remasterings of historic recordings made for Columbia by the Concertgebouw Orchestra under its longtime music director Willem Mengelberg erg. It contains Wagner's Tannhäuser Overture (1832), the Prelude to Act I of Wagner's Lohengrin (1927), and music of Brahms: Academic Festival Overture (1930), Symphony No. 3, (1931) and the third movement of Symphony No. 1 (1930). The second disk is devoted to lighter fare: Suppé's Poet and Peasant Overture, (1932) ,Johann Strauss's Perpetuum Mobile (1932), the Adagietto from Bizet's L'Arlesienne (1929), Two Elegaiac Melodies of Grieg (1931), the Adagietto from Mahler's Symphony No. 5 (1926) and Ravel's Boléro (1930). Also there are two previously unissued recordings, an alternate version of the Tannhäuserr Overture (1926), and an alternate version of the Waltz from Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings (1928). The latter doesn't show the orchestra at its best and it is easy to understand why it wasn't issued. All of these are important performances, particularly the Mahler which is the conductor's only commercial recording of Maher Even though it lasts only 7:15, it does not sound rushed nd is far removed from contemporary performances which usually take almost twice as long . Throughout all of these performances portamento often is heard to great effect
The Pristine catalog is filled with numerous other Mengelberg recordings including live performances of Beethoven symphonies. All of the Columbia recordings are available in three sets: In addition to Voume II mentioned above, also available are Volume I (PASC 515) (BUY FROM PRISTINE CASSICAL) and PASC 511that contains all of the Columbia Tchaikovsky recordings (BUY FROM PRISTINE CLSSICAL). All three of these are available in a single set, PASX 030. ( BUY FROM PRISTINE CLASSICAL). There are numerous other Mengelberg / ACO recordings. Let us hope Pristine will continue their resurrection of Mengelberg / ACO early recordings, particularly the later ones on Telefunkenken
Serge Koussevitzky always championed music of Sibelius The two were close friends and Sibelius highly praised Koussevitzky's performances. Pristine already has issued a live recording of Symphony No. 7 with the Boston Symphony recorded 1948 (PASC 561). Now we have this important issue of four symphonies in live performances from Symphony Hall: No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39 (October 13, 1945), Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 43 (March 9, 1946), Symphony No. 5 in E flat, Op. 82 ( (January 5 , 1946), and Symphony No. 6 in D minor, Op. 104 (March 9, 1946). Also we have Valse Triste (Oct. 13, 1945), The Swan of Tuonela, Op. 22 (December 8, 1945), and Finlandia , Op. 25 (August 3, 1958). All are powerful performances with the BSO in top form. Koussevitzky made two Sibelius symphony recording with the BSO in the early 1930, Nos. 2 and 5, and there is a BBC performance of No. 7 from 1933.This is an important issue, and Andrew Rose's XR remastering is effective. And if you love music of Sibelius you should investigate Pristine's set of songs sung by Jussi Björling and Kirsten Fagstad - PASC 517 (REVIEW).
German conductor Fritz Busch (1879 -1951) was a major figure during the first part of the 20th century. He was known particularly for his Wagner , and appeared often in Bayreuth, Salzburg, Glyndebourne, the Dresden Opera, Stuttgart Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera. At the Met he conducted more than a hundred performances, mostly Wagner including a famousTristan and Isolde with Lauritz Melchior and Helen Traubel. Busch was one of Strauss's favorite interpreters. Strauss dedicated Arabella to Busch who origially was to conduct the 1933 oremiere, but Nazu influence prevented this. We are fortunate to have on the Marston abe a 1936 Rosenkavalier from Colon. Another important set contains live performances of four Mozart operas from the Glyndebourne Festival, available on Warner Classics. Busch made few commercial recordings. Fortunately for collectors, many of his live performances have been issued on Guild and Music & Arts. Now we have this splendid Pristine set that contains Busch's performances of music of Beethoven, mostly live, made in the United States 1918 - 1950. Various orchestras are involved. We have the Egmont Overture with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (March 10, 1946), Symphony No. 1 with the Chicago Symphony (March 23, 1\948), and Symphony No. 5 (with the New York Philharmonic (December 10, 1950 - a missing part from the original transcription has been supplied by an excerpt from a Bruno Walter performance of the same work February 13, 1950). There are two performances of the Violin Concerto with his brother, respected violinist Adolf Busch, who in 1920 founded the famous Busch Quartet. We have thelr live performance from a broadcast in Carnegie Hal December 10, 1950. We also have the Columbia studio recording made February 9, 1942 never published as Adolf was not satisfied with the recording feeling the balance didn't favor the soloist sufficiently. Andrew Rose's expert remastering has attempted to correct this. A dubious "bonus" is the Scherzo from Symphony No. 3, a Stuttgart studio recording c.1919 with the Württenbergischen Landes-Theaters; this is super-brisk and not particularly well played. Perhaps it was rushed to get it on a single 78 rpm disk; at any rate, it adds nothing important to the Busch discography.
R.E.B. (January 2021)