BRUCKNER: Symphony No .8 in C minor. Symphony No. 9 in D minor.
KORNGOLD: Prelude and Carnival Scene from Violanta.
RATHAUS: Symphony No. 3, Op. 50. SCHRECKER: Prelude to a Drama
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E
Pristine continues to add major recordings by Jascha Horenstein to their catalog. Here, on a 2-disk set, we have the last two symphonies, the conductor's only recordings of this music. Both were recorded by Vox, in September 1955 (No. 8) and February 1953 (No. 9), both in Vienna's "Symphonia Studio," an orchestra that doubtless included some players from the Vienna Philharmonic. These are grand, big-scale performances, welcome additions to the catalog. Now we have the last three Bruckner—don't miss the 1928 recording with the Berlin Philharmonic of Symphony No 7, one of Horenstein's earlist and most exciting recordings (REVIEW). Unfortunately, it seems these are the only available Horenstein Bruckner recordings.
Music of three friends and contemporaries of Horenstein is featured on an important CD. Korngold and Horenstein did not see each other often, but Horenstein praised his music and attended the premiere of the one-act operaViolanta in 1916. Years later, he wished to present a complete performance for the BBC which, unfortunately did not materialize. Horenstein recorded Rachmaninoff's works for piano and orchestra with Earl Wild for Reader's Digest, performances highly acclaimed, now issued on various labels. The sessions also included Isle of the Dead, which was taped so quickly there was considerable time left over. Producer Charles Gerhardt told me many years ago he anticipated this and brought along the score and orchestral parts for these orchestral excerpts from Violanta. The performance never was officially releases and now we can hear it in spectacular stereo sound. Lovely music, perfectly played. Horenstein studied briefly with Franz Schrecker who helped him considerably with his conducting career. Schrecker's music today seems to be making a comeback; his voluptuous scores and sensuous music are akin to Korngold. Prelude to a Drama is a perfect example, romantic Viennese music at its best, vividly played by the BBC Symphony recorded for the BBC November 16, 1957. Horenstein also encouraged Karol Rathaus ((1895-1943) who also studied with Schrecker. He wrote music for films as well as for orchestra, and his music was conducted by George Szell, Erich Kleiber and Wilhelm Furtwängler. He eventually moved to America and for a while was a professor of composition at Queen's College. Rathans was recognized mostly for his film music and was a favorite in Hollywood. Little of has music has been recorded, although about a decade ago CPO issued a CD of Symphonies 2 and 3. Symphony No. 3, featured on the new Pristine CD, was composed in 1942-43. It is a long work (about 40 min.) in four movements. The first is a prosaic dirge of limited thematic interest, the second is a light "scherzo." The third, rather a sad elegy, is the strongest of the four, a moderately expressive Andantino, ,. The final Allegro appassnato, offers bright contrast with changing moods.but seems to have little focus This symphony is hardly a masterpiece, and it is difficult to understand why Horenstein conducted it other than out of friendship and respect for the composer. This BBC studio recording was the premiere, given shortly after Rathaus's death. Horenstein's legion of admirers surely will wish to have this CD if only just for the Korngold and Schrecker. The disk also includes a brief BBC spoken introduction to the Schrecker.
Karl Böhm favored Bruckner throughout his career. He recorded Symphony No. 7 twice, first in 1943 with 1942-43,the Vienna Philharmonia, again in 1976 in stereo for DGG with the same orchestra. Here we have the earlier recording, a dynamic view of this remarkable work, apparently a live recording made June 4-5, 1943 in Vienna's Musikverein. This performance some years ago was issued on Preiser in a dreadful transfer. Now Pristine has corrected all of the technical problems, in particular he manifold pitch lapses caused by the early models of German tape recorders which were unreliable in many ways. to sustain recording speeds. This is Böhm in his energetic early period, a propulsive account by all standards, now very list enable thanks to technical miracles.
R.E.B. (March 2015)