GRIEG: Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46. Peer Gynt Suite No. 2, OP. 55. BRAHMS: Serenade No. 2 in A, Op. 16.
Annette de la Bije, soprano; Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Jean Fournet (Grieg) and Carlo Zecchi (Brahms)
HAYDN HOUSE HH 1001

RAVEL: Rapsodie espagnole. Alborada del gracioso. Mother Goose Suite. Introduction and Allegro. Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2. ROUSSEL: Bacchus and Ariadne Suite No. 2
Chicago Symphony Orch/Jean Martinon, cond.
LOCKED IN THE VAULT REISSUES Volume 47

WEBER: Overtures: Oberon and Der Freischutz. WAGNER: Overtures: The Flying Dutchman. Die Meistersinger. Tannhäuser, Rienzi.
New York Philharmonic Orch/George Szell, cond.
LOCKED IN THE VAULT REISSUES Volume 41

PABLO CASALS "Encores and Transcriptions" Volume I
Music of Popper, Hillemacher, MacDowell, Debussy, Schubert, Schumann, Fauré, Wagner, Chopin, Godard, Rubinstein, Bach, Granados, Saint-Saëns and Bruch
Pablo Casals, cellist, with pianists Nikolai Mednikoff and Edouard Gendron

 Here are four more treasures for the collector - important reissues all, and at budget price! Haydn House has issued two of the earlier recordings of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra. The Brahms Serenade No. 2 conducted by Carlo Zecchi is a well-balanced mono recording made in May 1954 (at the same time the Italian conductor/pianist also recorded Haydn's Symphony No. 100 and Schumann's Symphony No. 3 - as well as Verdi's I Vespri Siciliani overture). This is a delectable, gentle performance of the beautiful Brahms serenade, with outstanding woodwinds - it sounds as if everyone is having a great time, and the sound, although monophonic, conveys the typical rich sounds of the Dutch hall. The two suites from Peer Gynt with Jean Fournet were recorded in June 1959 during sessions that also produced shorter works of Dukas, Borodin, Mussorgsky, Chabrier and Debussy. Dutch soprano Annette de la Bije is heard in Solveig's Song. This is one of the early Philips stereo recordings in the Concertgebouw, with a sonic picture more natural than many later recordings. These transfers are as perfect as they could be. This can be purchased at modest price from Haydn House; if you visit their website - http://www.HaydnHouse.com - you'll find this and many other worthy reissues most of which are not available elsewhere.

The George Szell/NYP and Jean Martinon/CSO releases are Locked in the Vault Reissues, respectively Volumes 41 and 47. This label emphasizes early recordings of George Szell, many of which were never issued on CD, all in excellent wide-range transfers. The two Weber overtures were recorded Jan. 8, 1952, the Wagner overtures Jan. 4, 1954 (all in one day apparently). Performances are typical of Szell, with the precision and fire one would expect. When he made stereo recordings of the Dutchman, Meistersinger and Tannhäuser overtures more than a dozen years later in Cleveland his tempi were a bit more expansive. The twin-CD Martinon set is a jewel - all of the Ravel works were previously issued on a mid-price RCA CD (63683) but these transfers are their equal and a major plus is the second suite from Roussel's Bacchus and Ariadne, one of Martinon's finest Chicago recordings which never has been issued on CD. Well here it is, as exciting in is own way as Charles Munch's Boston recordings. A single Locked in the Vault Reissue CD costs but $6; the Martinon 2-CD set is only $7, considerably less than the mid-price RCA CD mentioned earlier. For information and to order, visit their website: http://home.comcast.net/~litvr/

Naxos' CD, the first of two devoted to recordings made by Pablo Casals (1876-1973) between 1925 and 1930 for Victor and His Master's Voice, is a fitting tribute to the greatest cellist of his generation. Presented in order of recording date, there are 19 tracks beginning with Casals' first, Popper's Chanson villageois, recorded April 3, 1925, with Edouard Gendron as piano accompanist. Nikolai Mednikoff was pianist for the other works which including two previously unissued: MacDowell's Romance, Op. 35 and Bruch's Kol Nidrei. Mark Obert-Thorn's superb transfers wonderfully convey Casal's rich tone which Victor's microphones captured remarkably well - including a few extraneous noises as pointed out by M O-T.

R.E.B. (May 2003)