LISZT: Liebestraum No. 2. Liebestraum No. 3. Valses Oublées Nos. 1 and 2. Mephisto Waltz No. 1. Fantasy on Hungarian Folk Melodies. Piano Concerto No. 2 in A. "Funérailles"
Sviatoslav Richer, piano; Hungarian State Orch/János Ferencsik, cond.

BACH: Sinfonia from Christmas Oratorio. CHERUBINI: Symphony in D. STRAUSS: Tod und Verklärung.
NBC Symphony Orch/Guido Cantelli, cond.

ARNELL: Punch and the Child Ballet Music. DELIUS: An Arabesque. BERNERS: The Triumph of Neptune Suite.
Einar Norby, baritone; Royal Philharmonic Orch/Sir Thomas Beecham, cond. (Arnell & Delius); Robert Grooters, baritone; Philadelphia Orch/Sir Thomas Beecham, cond.

BERLIOZ: Requiem, Op. 5
Nicolai Gedda, tenor; Norddeutschen Rundfunks Choruys and Orch/Dimitri Mitropoulos, cond.

SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto No. 1 in E flat, Op. 107. Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 99.
Mstislav Rostropovich, cello/Philadelphia Orch/Eugene Ormandy, cond; (cello concerto); David Oistrakh, violin; Leningrad Philharmonic Orch/Yvgeny Mravinskyu, cond.
REGIS RRC 1385 TT: 64:14

The detailed CD booklet that accompanies Sviatoslav Richter's disc points out that doubtless is the most recorded (live or in concert) of all pianists. He gave about 3,600 concerts in more than a thousand places, many of them quite remote. ArkivMusic currently lists more than 300 recordings currently available; this well-filled West Hill Radio Archive CD (79:47) is a welcome addition. The first six works listed above are from a Moscow concert February 5, 1958, Funérailles from a Budapest concert February 11, 1958, and the two concerted works from a Budapest concert September 27, 1961. Stunning performances, particularly the Fantasy and Concerto, with audio quality that is satisfying if a but overly-resonant.

Pristine Audio once again offers historic past performances in state-of-the-art transfers. The Guido Cantelli NBC concert from Carnegie Hall December 27, 1952, four years before the young conductor's untimely death, is proof that Arturo Toscanini made a wise choice of Cantelli as a possible successor with the NBC Orchestra. Doubtless influenced by the Maestro, Cantelli chose Cherubini's seldom-heard Symphony in D for this broadcast. This is a work championed by Toscanini who shortly after this concert made his RCA recording. Prime interest here is the Strauss symphonic poem, given an intense reading that reaches a truly magnificent climax. Exciting listening here!

Pristine continues their commendable series featuring Sir Thomas Beecham. We have commercial recordings of Delius, Brahms, Haydn and other composers, as well as live Seattle broadcasts from the early '40's. Latest is this disk devoted to music by British composers: Lord Berners, Richard Arnell and Delius. I owned original LP releases of all of these, and what a pleasure it is to hear them anew in remasterings that offer fuller and richer sound than LP releases—and no ticks or scratches. Beecham had a terrific sense of humor and it comes over in these rollicking ballet scores by Richard Arnell (Punch and the Child) and Lord Berners (The Triumph of Neptune). This is Beecham's second recording of Neptune—in 1938 he recorded a somewhat shorter version with the London Philharmonic; this Philadelphia one dates from February 3, 1952. Delius' An Arabesque is an extended (13:14) song for baritone and orchestra based on texts by Norwegian poet Jens Peter Jacobsen. It doesn't have the focus of many of the composer's other works, and it would have been helpful if texts were provided.

This issue of the Berlioz Requiem is particularly welcome. In 1956, Dimitri Mitropoulos conducted two performances of this massive score in two locations, with different performers. One took place in July at the Salzburg Festival, featureing tenor Leopold Simoneau with the Vienna State Opera Chorus and the Vienna Philharmonic, given as a memorial for Wilhelm Furtwängler, who had died the previous November. It has long been available from pirate sources, and also is issued on Orfeo d'Or. The second performance of the Requiem was in Cologne August 26, 1956, with Nicolai Gedda as tenor soloist, and the Kölner Radio Chorus and Orchestra. This CD was remastered from original master tapes and offers surprisingly good sound for its age—and it is a grand, dedicated performance. It is remarkable that producers were able to get the entire work on a single CD, as the playing time is 2:22 over the supposed maximum possible. This is an important issue, a memorial to a unique conductor who died in 1960 after performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 3 in Cologne.

Here's another major historic reissue at mid-price from Regis. Mstislav Rostropovich gave the premiere of Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 in 1959 with Evgeny Mravinsky and the Leningrad Philharmonic. The following year Rostropovich gave the American premiere with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra after which time this recording was made. Equally commanding is David Oistrakh's recording of Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 which was written for him. This monumental concerto actually was composed almost a decade earlier than the first performance, which could not take place because of Soviet denunciation of the composer. After that, Oistrakh collaborated with the composer in revisions, and he played the premiere with Evgeny Mravinsky and the Leningrad Philharmonic in October 1955. Two months later Oistrakh gave the American premiere with Dimitri Mitropoulos and the New York Philharmonic, and the following day, January 2, 1956, they made their famous recording. This Regis reissue is the November 18, 1956 recording with Mravinsky. Oistrakh would make a third recording in 1972 with the New Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by the composer's son, Maxim. There also exists a BBC Legends performance from the Proms with Gennadi Rozhdestvensky and the Philharmjonia Orchestra. Most collectors will already have the historic recordings on the new Regis disk; if not, here's your opportunity at budget price.

The Pristine Audio releases are available from PRISTINE CLASSICAL

R.E.B. (June 2012)