WALTON: Cello Concerto. DVORAK: Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104.
BEETHOVEN: Cello Sonata No. 3 in A, Op. 69. SCHUBERT: Arpeggioone Sonaa
in A minor. BRHMS: Cello Sonaa No. 1 in E minor, Op. 38. REGER: Site for
Unaccompanied Cello in G, Op. 131c, No. 1
TCHAIKOVSKY: Eugene Onegin
TCHAIKOVSKY: The Sleeping Beauty Ballet
Russian cellist Gregor Piatigorsky ( 1903 - 1976) often is considered to be the finest string player of the century. Early in is career, he performed Don Quixote with Richard Strauss conducting after which the famed composer said, "Now I've heard my Don Quixote as I imagined him." Piatorgorsk was highly in demand for concerts with leading orchestras and conductors, and Prokofiev, Hindemith, Catelnuovo-Tedesco and Stravinsky wrote concertos for him. His chamber music partners included Nathan Milstein, Jascha Heifetz, Arthur Rubinstein, and Vladimir Horowitz. Now we have two of his major recordings, the Walton (dedicated and premiered by him) recorded 1957, and the Dvorák, in 1960. Both were RCA Living Stereo recordings, and were critisized at the time for the engineer's spotlighting the cello. This has somewhat been modified by XR remastering by restoring more low-frequency sound to the soloist, but the recordings still are not among the finest RCA made at the time in Boston. We can assume the Walton, made just a few days after the premiere, is a definitive performance, but the Dvorák concerto surprisingly receives a docile rather than than exciting reading. This is a valuable reissue sounding superior to any earlier releases. . The cellist's 1957 live performance of the Walton with Sir Malcolm Sargent and the BBC Symphony is available on DVD, an intriguing supplement to the new reissue.
Another major cellist of the twentieth century, Emanuel Feuerman (1902-1942) was highly respected both as a performer and a teacher. For some years he taught at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and during that time made his famous recodings in 1940 of Bloch's Schelomo (with Leopold Stokowski) and Strauss's Don Quixote (with Eugene Ormandy on the podium), both previously issued on Pristine (PASC 168). On this new release we hear the master cellist collaborating with some of the finest pianists of the time, Myra Hess (Beethoven), Gerald Moore (Schubert) and Theodor van der Pas (Brahms). Recordings were made 1934-1939 and its interesting to note that almost all of the 78 rpm sides are first takes. Mark Obert-Thorn again does his miraculous job of restoration. A superb reissue, a memento of a superb artist who made all too few recordings and died all too early because of complications from an operation.
This Melodiya recording of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, made in in 1955 in the Bolshoi Theater, shows Russian opera at its finest. The cast is sterling, and we have the definite plus of a young Galina Vishnevskaya's brilliant vocally assured Tatiana, surrounded by other major Russian artists of the time: Eugene Belov, Ivan Petrov and Sergei Lemeshev, all in top form. And the conductor, Boris Khaiken, an acknowledged master of Russian opera. This recording has always been in the catalog, but now we hear it in renewed beauty. Andrew Rose's XR remastering has clarified the aural picture, but he could not eliminate theoverly-prominent low bass in orchestral sound: however, distortion usually heard in Russian recordings is absent. No texts of course, but that should not be a problem for most listeners. 31 tracks are provided. Let us hope other treasures from the Melodiya vaults will received similar treatment (How about the 1974 recording of Gliere's Ilya Mourometz with Nathan Raklin on the podium?).
(THE PRISTINE AUDIO RECORDINGS ARE AVAILABLE FROM PRISTINE AUDIO.
So far on this page we've dealt with state-of-the-art audio restoration. for which we are thankful. But the last issue is an absolute disaster, Opus Kura's remastering of the famous mid-50's recording of Tchaikovsky's complete Sleeping Beauty Ballet with Antal Dorati and the Minneapolis Symphony is a mess sonically. The original recording had an incredibly dynamic range, a test for hi-fi buffs of he time. This recording is discussed in detail in a review on this site more than a decade ago, when this famous recording was issued on the quality Sound Dynamics label (REVIEW). This Opus Kura issue is horribly distorted, almost unlistenable with boomy bass and piercing ighs. The only positive element of this issue is Rob Cowan's program notes in which he states there is limited evidence that Philips was planning to record a complete Swan Lake with Dorati and the Concertgebouw, a project that never materialized. If you wish to hear this famous Dorati Sleeping Beauty, check out the Sound Dynamics issue, or for stereo, the later version with the Concertgebouw.
R.E.B. (January 2014)