SCHUMANN: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54. LISZT: Piano Concerto No.
1 in E flat. Piano Concerto Nno. 2 in A. PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No.
3 in C, Op. 26. Piano Concerto No. 5 in G, Op.55. Sonata No. 7 in B flat,
Arias from The Magic Flute and Abduction
from the Seraglio (Elisabeth
Schwarzkopf, soprano; Erich Kunz, baritone); JOHANN STRAUSS, JR: Excerpt
from The Gypsy Baron (Maria Cebotari, soprano). SMETANA: Excerpt
The Bartered Bride (Hilde Konetzni, soprano). STRAUSS: Es gibt
ein Reich from Ariadne auf Naxos (Maria Cebotari, soprano).
Excerpts from Der
Rosenkavalier (Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Irmgard Seefried,
sopranos). Excerpts from
Salome (Ljuba Welitsch, soprano); Vienna Philharmonic Orch/Herbert
von Karajan, cond.
Here are four more treasures from the vaults, courtesy of ArkivMusic. This site praised the original CD issue of George Antheil's Capital of the World (see REVIEW). Unfortunately it didn't last long in the catalog. Now here it is in all of its glory, a memorable performance in every way, preferable to the competing version on Centaur as it includes the sounds of the dancer in the fight sequence. The mono sound is exemplary. Erratic French pianist Samson François (1924-1970) studied with Alfred Cortot (who said he was impossible to teach), and a concert by him was never a dull affair, highlighted perhaps by the importance alcohol and drugs played in his life. When François was at his best, he was imaginative, quirky and remarkable in his command of the keyboard. We hear him at his best in these rhapsodic accounts of concertos of Schumann, Liszt, but the real reason to get this set is to hear the two Prokofiev concertos and Sonata No. 7. François can be seen on two DVDs mentioned on this site: willful, almost bizarre live performances of concertos of Ravel and Chopin (REVIEW), and Ravel and Grieg (REVIEW). However, to hear this intriguing pianist at his best, get this ArkivMusic reissue.
Jean-Yves Thibaudet's 1994-1996 recordings of Rachmaninoff's four concertos and Paganini Rhapsody are among the finest ever made of this music, and it is surprising London didn't keep them in the catalog longer. As of this writing, only the Piano Concerto No. 2 and Rhapsody are still officially issued on London (440653). Thanks to ArkivMusic, we have Concerto No. 4 coupled with other solo works (458930), and the CD listed above offering Concertos 1 and 3. No question, this is one of the benchmark recordings of Concerto No. 3. Everything is right about it, and Ashkenazy provides the finest accompaniment imaginable. Ashkenazy, who recorded this concerto as soloist with André Previn, Eugene Ormandy and Bernard Haitink, emphasizes rhythmic accents—trumpet statements are incisive and add much to the excitement. If you love Rachmaninoff, you should have these performances.
The Karajan Strauss CD was issued in 1997 as part of EMI Classics' Karajan Edition. In spite of importance of contents, it didn't last long in the catalog. Here we have Karajan the Strauss accompanist with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Erich Kunz, Maria Cebotari, Irmgard Seefried, Hilde Konetzni and, most importantly, Ljuba Welitsch in what remains of the 1948 recording of the final scene of Salome. Unfortunately the second of the four 78rpm sides was destroyed, but we hear what there is: the opening followed by a few seconds of silence, then the remainder of the finale. It is a spectacular performance—it is rumored that Karajan said he would never again conduct Salome until he found a soprano of Welitsch's quality—and he didn't until 1977 when a very young Hildegard Behrens came close. CD notes on this issue are minimal (and don't mention the fact that the Salome is incomplete)—but it matters not. For vocal collectors this is essential. Thank you again ArkivMusic!
R.E.B. (July 2008)