FIRST CHAIR
CLARKE:  Trumpet Voluntary in D (Samuel Krauss, trumpet).  GRIFFES:  Poem  (William Kincaid, flute).  HANDEL:  Concerto No. 3 in G Minor (Marcel Tabuteau, oboe).  PHILLIPS:  Concert Piece (Sol Schoenbach, bassoon).  WEBER:  Adagio and Rondo (Lorne Monroe, cello).  CHABRIER:  Larghetto (Mason Jones, horn).  BEETHOVEN:  Romance No. 2 in F (Jacob Krachmalnick, violin).  WEBER:  Concertino (Anthony Gigliotti, clarinet).  Philadelphia Orch/Eugene )Ormandy, cond.
SOUND DYNAMICS  (M) (M) TT:  57:43

TCHAIKOVSKY:  Symphony No. 7 in E Flat
Philadelphia Orch/Eugene Ormandy, cond.
SOUND DYNAMICS  (M) (S)  TT:  37:26

BEETHOVEN:  Symphony No. 6 in F, Op. 68 "Pastorale."  Fidelio Overture.
Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orch/Wolfgang Sawallisch, cond.
SOUND DYNAMICS (M) (M) TT:  49:48

Three more splendid transfers to CD, the first two of enormous interest to admirers of the Philadelphia Orchestra and their long-time conductor Eugene Ormandy, who led the famed ensemble for 42 years (1938 to 1980).  During his tenure he developed the famed "Philadelphia Sound" bringing the Philadelphia Orchestra recognition as the country's finest orchestra, equaled by some, but never bettered.  The Orchestra began recording for Columbia pre-stereo - there were many superb recordings during that period - First Chair is one of them.  With the advent of stereo, Columbia of course recorded in that mode resulting in a more spacious sonic representation of the Orchestra.  There always was (and still is) a problem in securing a hall in which recordings by this orchestra can be made successfully; many Columbia recordings were made in Philadelphia's Town Hall or Broadway Center instead of the resident Academy of Music now mercifully replaced by the Kimmel Center (which in itself has rather problematic acoustics).

First Chair is a showcase for first-desk players of the Orchestra.  Recorded in 1952 in the Academy of Music, it features repertory to show off the abilities of section leaders many of whom were renowned as soloists in their own right. It's rather surprising that concertmaster Jacob Krachmalnick elected to perform the Beethoven Romance instead of one of the familiar violin/orchestra showpieces; this music hardly shows his technical expertise although of course it does display his superb tone. SDA's transfer is superb. 

Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 7 began life in 1892 but he wasn't happy with it and set it aside.  He used the first movement in a new piano concerto. Sketches from the slow movement and finale were arranged by Tchaikovsky's pupil, Tanayev, called when published "Andante and Finale for Piano and Orchestra, which, when joined with the completed first movement, form what is known today as the Piano Concerto No. 3.  Tchaikovsky apparently intended to use as a scherzo for the symphony one of the piano pieces of Op. 72.  Tchaikovsky never did get his "Symphony No. 7" together; musicologist and teacher Semyon Bogatyriev (1890-1960) did so utilizing the most authentic information available, augmenting some orchestration and completely orchestrating the scherzo. The premiere was in Moscow in 1957; Eugene Ormandy gave the Western premiere in February 1962 shortly after which this recording was made.  It is superb in every way and the transfer, made from Columbia stereo tape 472, is wide-range.  There are two other recordings of this work, one on Chandos with Neemi J”rvi, the other on Harmonia Mundi with Paul Freeman - both logically also include the Piano Concerto No. 3.  Remember that this symphony actually would have been Symphony No. 6 had Tchaikovsky not become disenchanted with it.

Another worth SDA reissue is Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 (coupled with the overture to Fidelio) with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch.  These recordings were made in September 1960, the symphony originally issued in the U.S. on a stereo Epic LP (BC 1134).  From 1991-1993 Sawallisch recorded a Beethoven symphony cycle with the Concertgebouw, this time for EMI, a few taken from live performances.  The EMI Pastorale was recorded March 1991 in sessions and is very fine; it was issued on EMI CDC 54504, now deleted, but there is an EMI(Angel) mid-priced set that contains symphonies 4, 5, 6 and 7 (EMIC 73326).  You might find the other EMI recordings in cut-out bins; they are worth looking for.  The Philips 1960 recording is an example of the fine engineering the label was doing at the time - they really captured the sound of the great hall.  Collectors surely will be interested in this SDA reissue, and let us hope they also will consider issuing other Sawallisch/Concertgebouw recordings made during that period - Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 and  King Stephen Overture and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5.

How fortunate we are to have connoiseurs of records making treasures such as these available.  Packaging is minimal and there are no program notes - but to the true collector this will not matter.  These can be ordered from Sound Dynamics Associates.

R.E.B. (August 2002)