HERBERT VON KAAJAN - ORCHESTRAL SPECTACULARS 1949-1960
KARAJAN - SIBELIUS 1976-1981
GLINKA: Suite from Russlan and Ludmilla. RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Suite from
Ivan the Terrible. May Night Overture. TCHAIKOVSKY: Suite from The Tsarina's
Arias from Gluck's Alceste, Iphigénie en Tauride and Orphée
Cherubini's Médée, Berlioz' Le damnation de
Faust, Massenet's Werther,
and Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila..
Here are two more of the bargain quality collections from Warner Classics of recordings by Herbert von Karajan. Previous issued have been mentioned on this site (see Herbert von Karajan in CD index). Now we have this large set (13 disks) of "Orchestral Spectaculars" recorded 1949-1960 with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Some of the later ones are stereo, but most are well-balanced mono, all displaying EMI's expert engineering of the .ime. The other smaller album (4 disks) is devoted to the conductor's Sibelius recordings 1976-1981. To the dismay of DGG, as they wanted to issue a complete set, Karajan never recorded Symphony No. 3, and he never re-recorded No. 7, although you can find it in the larger set, recorded with the Philharmonia. We have Karajan's only recording of Symphony No. 1. From Lemminkainen we have only The Swan of Tuonela. A conspicuous absentee is Pohjola's Daughter.These transfers are outstanding, clear and distortion free. The big set sometimes offers two versions of the ,same work, one mono, one stereo. We have Karajan's first recordings of Sibelius's symphonies 2, 4 and 5 two recordings of the latter with the Philharmonia, the first from 1952 , the second from 1960.
Ukrainian conductor Anatole Fistoulari (1907 - 1995) excelled in opera and ballet. He first conducted when only 7 (!), joined the French army in 1939 and in 1942 found himself in London where he met and married Anna Mahler, the composer's daughter, and they had a daughter, Marina, the following year. For some years Fistoulari was principal conductor of the London Philharmonic. February 20, 21 and 22 were three days in 1961 set aside for the Concertgebouw Orchestra to record with George Solti conducting (he wasn't knighted until a decade later). Sessions for the Mahler Symphony No. 4 went very well. Sylvia Stahlman was the soprano, and the recording was magnficently engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson. Fortunately this spectacular performance is still in the catalog, in Decca's Jubilee series. The story goes that Decca found themselves with a full recording session and nothing to record so at the last minute they contacted Fistolari who stepped in to record a suite of music from Tchaikovsk's Swan Lake. The result was a true winner, exciting, dynamic playing recorded with a clarity and impact unusual in Concertebouw recordings. This was issued on a London LP, later on a Decca CD. The best way to experience this aural treat is a masterly LP transfer from Sound Dynamics, reviewed on this site in March 2001 (REVIEW). Fistolari had made a recoding in 1952 of music from Swan Lake with the London Symphony, some years later made a complete recording for London's Phase Four series with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic—but neither approach the 1961 Amsterdam version. Now, thanks to Guild, we have the opportunity to hear Fistoulari in music he loves, orchestral suites from operas by Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky, all recorded 1951-1953. Excellent mono sound, and welcome additions to the catalog. These were issued in a high-quality transfer on a private label some years ago, and praised on this site (REVIEW). With this new reissue, they now are more readily available.
Belgian mezzo-soprano Rita Gorr (1926-2012) was a major figure on the international opera scene for three decades, known for her performances in baroque operas as well as Verdi, Wagner, and the famous French mezzo roles. There are relatively few of her recordings currently available. You can hear her Fricka in the Leinsdorf 1961 recording of Die Walküre, her Amneris in the 1962 Solti recording of Aida, her Ortrud in Von Matacic's 1959 recording of Lohengrin. This capacity (79:48) Guild disk focuses on French repertory in recordings made 1959-1962, glorious singing throughout. It is unfortunate the CD doesn't include Dalila's most famous aria, but that is available elsewhere. Excellent transfers, program notes but no texts.
R.E.B. (November 2014)