6 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 10 - July 2006

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Back to Act lndP.x The most exciting and very best performance of anything I've heard in recent years is of a perennial favourite, Bloch's Schelomo, played by cellist Leslie Parnas with Antal Dorati conducting the North German Radio Orchestra, recorded live on January 13th, 1969 (Doremi CD DHR-7844). As the voice of Solomon, renowned for his wisdom, the cello should logically appear to be in control and the passionate and commanding voice of Parnas's cello does just that. Under Dorati's baton nothing is held back, from the blistering tuttis to the finale's quiet resolution. Surely this is what Bloch had in mind for his Hebraic Rhapsody but may never have heard. The Brahms double concerto with Menuhin and Parnas under Casals from the 1969 Casals Festival is another Olympian performance. Driven by Casals and lead by Parnas, Menuhin, too, gives one of his finest performances. Finally, Parnas plays the Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations with the London Mozart Players under Gervase de Peyer. These live performances (the Brahms is mono) whet our appetites for more from Leslie Parnas who has been inexplicably passed over by the majors. This disc is scheduled for release in August. OLD WINE IN NEW BOTTLES Fine Old Recordings Re-Released by Bruce Surtees many of these fabulous performances return to excite even the jaded listener. Recorded in London and Vienna in 1960, Mravinsky's last three Tchaikovsky Symphonies (10 0068 - 2CDs) are ample reminders of what a crack ensemble this was, the equal of the very best Western orchestras. Jiri Belohlavek was twice considered for the Toronto Symphony but, was edged out by Jukka-Pekka Saraste and then Peter Oundjian. He is now principal conductor of the BBC Symphony in London. As conductor of the Czech Philharmonic he recorded the four Brahms Symphonies, the two Serenades plus the Tragic andAcademic Festival Overtures and the Haydn Variations (Supraphon SU 3868 4CD box). Belohlavek appeared regularly with the Czech Philharmonic from 1973 and in 1990 he became their principal conductor. The opening pages of the first symphony are more measured than the 'take no prisoners' drive of some other performances but as the symphony unfolds we hear an inspired, expansive reading played by one of Europe's very finest ensembles. Equally outstanding are all the other works heard on these beautifully engineered recordings of an orchestra intuitively balanced for Brahms. Berlin Classics has released recordings made by four singers from the first half of the 20th century in a series "Great Singers of the Past". Almost forgotten today, these four were certainly well known to collectors of the time and later. Erna Berger (1900- 1990) was heard on many EMI discs conducted by Beecham, Furtwangler, Elmendorf, and others. Chosen for this disc were arias and duets by Mozart, Flotow, Offenbach, Verdi, and Puccini (33042BC). Soprano Tiana Lemnitz (1897-1944) was extremely popular for decades. She recorded extensively and her discs sold very well until the late 1970s when the demand dropped right off due to extra-musical problems (33032BC). Very few baritones were more popular internationally than Heinrich Schlusnus (1897-1994) in his prime. Ten opera arias and duets, all sung in German, confirm and justify his reputation (33062BC) . Finally, tenor Helge Rosvaenge (1897-1972) who had a Richard Tauber-like voice. As with Schlusnus the twelve tracks are sung in German, but let's not complain: a voice is a voice is a voice (33052BC). It rates little more than a footnote now, but the conditions under which Arturo Toscanini 'retired' in 1954 were the talk of the music world. Friedelind Wagner, who was living with the family and who was present backstage told me the exact circumstances. The 87 year old Toscanini was fired early in that year by David Sarnoff, his boss at NBC. Toscanini was severely distressed by the unkind and entirely impersonal treatment accorded him. On that famous (infamous?) evening of April 4th the Maestro did not want to appear but his family, fearful of the effect the no-show would have on their future relations with RCA/NBC, literally pushed the tearing eyed conductor onto the stage. In the Tannhauser Overture he had the momentary lapse of focus at which point recorded music was broadcast. However the complete final concert was recorded in stereo and Music and Arts has re-issued their earlier stereo CD of that all -Wagner concert in excellent sound (CD-3008). The NBC engineers produced a flawless tape which happily sounds far better than any commercial Toscanini releases from RCA. Another one of the great conductors of an earlier generation was Yevgeny Mravinsky, music director of the Leningrad Philharmonic from 1938 until his death in 1988. Melodiya's recordings of many of his performances were licensed to various companies around the world. Melodiya itself is now being imported into Canada and 60 WWW. TH EWHOLENOTE.COM SAMPLE SIZES ONE-THIRD PAGE ISLAND 4.625 inches wide 5 inches high This WholeNote promotional ad is itself an example of the one-third page island size. ONE-SIXTH PAGE ISLAND 4.625 inches wide 2.5 inches high ONE-THIRD PAGE VERTICAL 2.375 "wide 10 "high See example on page 7. J U LY 1 - SEPTEMBER 7 2006

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