SECRET LOVE LETTERS: Works by: Franck · Szymanowski · Chausson · Debussy

Lisa Batiashvili, violin. Giorgi Gigashivili, piano. Philadelphia Orchestra / Yannick Nézet-Séguin, cond.
DGG 00289 486b0462 TT: 71:29
UPC/EAN: 028948604623
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Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera

Ljuba Welitsch (Amelia). Mirto Picchi (Riccardo). Pablo Silveri (Renato). Alda Noni (Oscar). Jean Watson (Ulrica). Glyndebourne Festival Chorus and Orchestra / Vittorio Gui, cond.
IDIS 6383/6384 TT: 66:03/58:36
UPC/EAN: 8021945000834

Serge Koussevitzky Conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra – Live

London Philharmonic Orchestra / Serge Koussevitzky cond.
SOMM ARIADNE 5017-2 (2 Disks) TT: 68:17 / 80:00
UPC/EAN: 748871501720

The amazing young violinist Lisa Batashvili already has to her credit acclaimed recordings of concertos of Prokoiev, Sibelius and Tchaikovsky. Her latest disk, oddly titled Secret Love Letters, offers music of Franck, Szymanowski, Chausson and Debussy. CD notes by the violinist contain her views on love and emotion which can be associated with all the music except the Franck sonata. Chaussbn's Poeme was completed in 1896 and originally was a violin concerto entitled The Song of Love, a title later discarded. Szymanowski's first violin concerto dates from 1915, written with assistance from his friend violinist Pawet Kochansky who composed the cadenza for this one-movement work, The American premiere was in 1924 with the Philadelphia Orchestra in their home,the Academy of Music. It is an exotic , sensuous, one movement work that I heard for the first time via a 1961 recording with Wanda Wilkoimska , Witold Rowicki conducting. It seems odd to me that major violinists have avoided this wonderful concerto. This new recording is superb in every way although the soloist is rather recessed. The Philadelphia Orchestra gives rich accompaniment in both the concerto and the Poeme in this recording made in Philadelphia in January of this year. The Frank sonata and the brief Debussy piece are added bonuses with pianist Giorgi Gigashvili offering perfect support.

Here is a live performance of Verdi's Un ballo en maschera recorded live at the Glyndebourne Festival July 29, 1949. The cast is superb headed by Bulgarian soprano Ljuba Welitsch who earlier that year had created a sensation at the Met as Salome with Fritz Reiner conducting. The broadast of this is available as well as the 1953 Met broadcast, essential for Strauss lovers. Welitsch studied the work with the composer and sang it with him conducting at the Vienna State Opera - unfortunately not recorded. She is in splendid form as Amelia. The recording has a dry acoustic, but voices are always clear. This is an important historic reissue, sonically an improvement over the past issue.

Serge Koussevitzky (1874 - 1951) was a dominant figure on the music scene for more than a half-century. He had a remarkable career in many areas, as a virtuoso double bassist, publisher and a conductor. He was associated with many orchestras, primarily the Boston Symphony 1924-1948. Rob Cowan's fine program notes give details of the conductor's early career. We are fortunate to have these live recordings of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 from Royal Albert Hall June 1, 1950, and Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 from the same venue June 8. Audio is superb, and the dynamic performances are exciting indeed. The two discs includes memoirs of the conductor by various commentators with brief excerpts from many of his recordings This is a fine historic issue!

R.E.B. (September 2022)