MAHLER: Das Lied von der Erde
Christa Ludwig, soprano; Waldemar Kmentt, tenor; Vienna Sympony Orch/Carlos Kleiber, cond.

BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15. FALLA: Nights in the Gardens of Spain.
Clifford Curzon, piano; National Symphony Orch (Brahms). New Symphony Orch/Enrique Jorda, cond.

VERDI: La Forza del Destino
Renata Tebaldi (Leonora). Paolo Washington (Marchese). Gian Giacomo Guelfi (Don Carlos). Guseppe di Stefano (Don Alvaro). Fedora Barbieri (POreziosilla). Firenze Chorus and Orch/Gabriele Santini, cond.
MYTO 00114 (3 disks)

STRAUSS: Ariadne auf Naxos
Irmgard Seefried (Composer). Maria Reining (Prima Donna). Paul Schöffler (Music Master). Max Lorenz (Bacchus). Alda Nori (Zerbinetta). Vienna State Opera Orch/Karl Böhm, cond.
MYTO 00163

KORNGOLD: Die Stumme Serenade
Soloists/Chorus/Orc/Erich Wolfgang Korngold, cond.
ARCHIPEL CD 0540 (2 disks) TT: 53:02 / 46:23

What a treasure we have in this Mahler recordinon on the Vienna Symphony label which has issued a number of modern recordings but now offers this historic performance of Das Lied von der Erde, a concert performance by the Vienna Symphony from June 7, 1967 in Vienna's Musikverein. This is a magnificent performance of ths work with perfect soloists, an inspired conductor and the orchestra that probably included some players who were associated with the Vienna Philharmonic which made the first recording of the work in 1936 with Bruno Walter on the podium (with Kirsten Thorborg and Charles Kullman as soloists). The same orchestra in 1952 also with Walter conducting would make the historic recording with Katheen Ferrier and Julius Pazak. This 1967 performance with the Vienna Symphony conducted by Carlos Kleiber has been issued before but in poor sound. Holger Siedler did the remarkable remastering, and his CD notes include his discussion of the process. This is a performance of Das Lied every Mahler enthusiast should own. No texts.

Clifford Curzon made three recordings of Piano Concerto No. 1 of Brahms. All three have been issued on CD. \In January 2012 this site mentioned Pristine Audio's issue with the 1953 Eduard van Beinum/Concertgebouw coupled with the Grieg concerto (REVIEW) . Now they have turned their attention to the first Curzon recording which was made in Kingsway Hall June 5, 1946 with Enrique Jorda conducting, a rather unlikely choice, but it worked. We also have the pianist's second recording of Nights in the Gardens of Spain; the first was made in 1945, the second, heard here, dates from 1951. It might seem odd that a classic pianist such as Curzon would be equally effective in Brahms and Falla, but both performances are outstanding. And Pristine's magic restoration permits a hearing experience that belies the fact that these recordings were made seven decades ago.

Renata Tebaldi sang Leonore in La Forza del Destino for the first time June 14, 1953 in Fierenze with Dimitri Mitropoulos conducting, and excerpts from that performance are included as a considerable bonus in this new 3-disk Myto set that featured the complete opera recorded in Frienze June 8, 1956, this time with Gabriele Santini on the podium. And what a supporting cast she had, including Di Stefano, Guelfi, Neri and Barbieri. It is an exciting performance, and Tebaldi is in spectacular form. The hard sound and insecurity on high notes that marred some of her later performances are totally absent here. This is a thrilling account of Verdi's masterpiece. Audio is adequate to convey the performances—operaphiles will be delighted to have this opportunity to hear the legendary soprano at her best. No texts or CD information. This is a budget issue.

And yet we have another valuable issue from Myto, Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos in a live Vienna State Opera performance from June 11, 1944 with Karl Böhm conducting. Ever since the second version of the opera had its premiere in 1916 it has been a favoite world-wide, and many famous sopranos of the past have sung the role of Ariadne. In this performance it is sung by Maria Reining, (1903 - 1991) an Austrian soprano who didn't start singing until she was 28, but then took the opera world by storm, particularly in operas by Mozart, Wagner and Strauss. She never sang the heavier Strauss roles, but excelled as Arabella, Daphne, Ariadne and the Marschallin, singing under Toscanini, Szell, Böhm, Krauss and Erich Kleiber. She is in radiant form in this performance, and the remarkably good audio serves all of the singers. Collectors also should investigate the videos of Böhm performances mentioned on this site. And one wonders what other treasures will turn up in the Vienna vaults? Could there be a complete Salome with Ljuba Welitsch? In 1944 in Vienna she sang her first Salome with the composer conducting on his 80th birthday. Now wouldn't that be a find!! Let us hope!

In May 2012 this site mentioned a new stereo recording of Erich Wolfgang Korngold' attempt to writing a musical comedy, Die Stumme Serenade (REVIEW). It was an ill-fated venture from his final years. For information about this operetta, please check that review. It always is interesting to hear composers conducting their own works, and this Archipel 2-disk set gives us that opportunity. It is unfortunate this effort was expended on such a minor work. The recording was made in Vienna in 1951, and the mono sound is excellent. No libretto; if you are interested, you'll find it in the new recording.

R.E.B. (November 2014)