<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Van Kempen Sibelius / Der Rosenkavalier Schwarzkopf / Rigoletto Leonard Warren, Horowitz Pictures at an Exhibition,, Korngold Violin Concerto Heifetz.

GRIEG: Peer Gynt Suites 1 and 2
Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra / Paul van Kempen, cond. SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 5 in E flat, Op. 82. Symphony No. 7 in C, Op. 105.
Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra (Symphony 5), Hilversum Radio Philharmonic Orchestra / Paul van Kempen, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 514 TT: 72:43
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MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Ehiubition. MOZART: Violin Concerto No. 5 in A, K. 219. KORNGOLD: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35.
Vladimir Horowitz, piano (Mussorgsky). Jascha Heifetz, violin / New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra / Efrem Kurtz, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 513 TT: 77:27
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STRAUSS: Der Rosenkavalier
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Marschallin). Sena Jurinac (Octavian). Hanny Steffek (Sophie). Kurt Böhme (Baron Ochs). Ronald Lewis (Faninal). Kenneth MacDonaod (Italian Singer).
Covent Garden Chorus and Orchestra / Georg Solti, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 142 (two jewel boxes / 3 disks) TT: 3:16:56
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VERDI: Rigoletto
Leonard Warren (Rigoletto). Jussi Bjöerling (The Duke). Bidu Sayao (Gilda). Martha Lipton (Maddalena). Normon Cordon (Sparafucile). William Hargrave (Monterone). George Cehenovsky (Marullo). Metropolitan Opea Chorus and Orchestra / Cesare Sodero, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 143 (2 disks) TT: 1:58:51
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Dutch conductor Paul van Kempen (b. 1893) had a long association with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra. For three years beginning in 1913, he was a violinist in the orchestra before his conducting career began. From 1934-1942. after becoming a German citizen In 1932, was appointed music director of the Dresden Philharmonic. In 1939 he became music director of the Hilversum Radio Philharmonic. His international career flourished, and in m1951 he was selected to replace an ailing Eduard van Beinum for concerts in the Concertgebouw and, surprisingly, there were audience and musician protests. There surely is no evidence of discontent in the orchestra judging from the Tchaikovsky recordings Van Kempen made with them in 1951.

This new CD offers some rare treasures. The Grieg wa recorded May 1939, the Sibelius 7 May 1950, and Symphony 5, May1945. Both of the later were recorded in the Concertgebouw. Symphony No. 5 is superb sonically, a perfect balance of clarity and hall resonance. Many decades ago I owned a set of the 78s and made my own transfer onto open-reel tape. It was OK, but surely a feeble effort compared with this new transfer by Mark Obert-Thorn. This is a memorable performance, a welcome release. Van Kempen's view of Symphony No. 7 is a rushed reading, only 16:14 duration; most other recorded performances are at least four minutes longer. There is no question that in this brisk reading the symphony loses much of its power. Audio is of high quality, which cannot be said of the Grieg, which is somewhat harsh and congested. Overall, this is a welcome addition to the Van Kempen discograpohy.

Another Pristine disk couples two titans of the music world. Jascha Heifetz and Vladimir Horowitz, although not performing together. Heifetz is heard in a live broadcast March 30, 1947 playing Mozart's Concerto No. 5 and the then-new Violin Concerto of Korngold. The latter was premiered Feb. 15, 1947 with Heifetz and the St. Louis symphony directed by Alfred Wallenstein. The concerto, dedicated to Alma Mahler, has become a favorite and there are numerous recordings including the first with Heifetz and Golschmann This live broadcast shows the artist at his peak, with remarkable control of all of those high harmonics. The Mozart is equally elegant. Audio is well-balanced and conveys the performances effectively. Pristine already has issued the Horowitz Carnegie Hall performance of Pictures; here we have a remastering of his 1947 studio RCA recording, sounding better than ever.

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf has long been considered the definitive heroine of Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier. Her famous 1956 EMI recording conducted by Herbert von Karajan is a classic, and there is a famous video available from Vienna also with Karajan. This live Covent Garden production was broadcast December 7, 1959. This marked the Covent Garden debut of Georg Solti (he wasn't knighted until 1971). His famous Decca recording of Das Rheingold had just been released, giving his career new impetus. He later would lead the Chicago Symphony 1969 - 1991, and in 1961 became music director of Covent Garden, a position he held for a decade. Rosenkavalier was one of Solti's favorite operas, and he later made two recordings in Vienna; there also is a video of a later Covent Garden production. Surely this 1959 performance is memorable and admirers of the artists will wish to investigate it. Unfortunately the BBC engineers, which usually provide high quality audio, disappoint here. Orchestral Sound is coarse and unresonant, voices sometimes overly prominent. There is no Straussian orchestral opulence to be heard here, although Andrew Rose's XR "ambient stereo" works reasonably well. That same year the BBC recorded the remarkable Horenstein Mahler Symphony No. 8 which has been issued in splendid stereo. It is unfortunate the same audio exprtise isn't evident on this Rosenkavalier.

Here is another historic Met broadcast from the Golden A ge at the Met, a broadcast December 29, 1945 with an all-star cast as listed above. It was indeed a great day at the Met with all singers in top form. Conductor Cesare Sodero misses none of the drama of the score, and the engineers have captured a very clear, if rather dry acoustic. The important thing is the performance, which could not be bettered. Warren sang more than 600 performances at the Met and numerous Rigolettos incoluding nine broadcasts, but this is the onlhy one in which he was partnered by Jussi Bjöerling, the perfect Duke. This performance is ner-definitive, essential for all opera lovers. The original broadcast sound was very good for its time. A ndrew Rose has remastered it effectively. If you wish to hear this performance in best possible audio, get the Pristine otherwise. Otherwise check out the Sony issue which might not sound as good, but is budget price (REVIEW).

R.E.B. (November 2017)