5 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 1 - September 2011

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  • September
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Old Wine, New Bottles |

Old Wine, New Bottles | Fine Old Recordings Re-ReleasedTESTAMENT is the prestigious Britishcompany that licenses recordings ofin the archives of EMI, Decca, RCA, theBBC and other radio archives. Testamentcirculation two esteemed performances ofAubrey Brain, Adolph Busch, and RudolphSerkin recorded in 1933 and the ClarinetQuintet with Reginald Kell and the BuschQuartet from 1937 (SBT 1001). 21 yearslater, Testament, essentially artist-based,continues to liberate valuable performancesfrom record company archives and issuefew DVDs include the legendary videosof Toscanini and the NBC Symphonytransmitted live between March 20, 1948and March 22, 1952. These black and whitekinescopes from studio 8H and CarnegieHall were once available on RCA laser discsand are now licensed to Testament (SBDVD1003–1007, 5 DVDs available separately).They also offer many vinyl re-issues frompressings. Their recent releases includeCarlo Maria Giulini conductingthe Berlin Philharmonic in live concertsfrom the Philharmonie, as recorded byDeutschlandradio Kultur. Giulini was Musichim still at the top of his interpretative andconducting abilities. During these yearswhile the Berlin Philharmonic was still vonKarajan’s, the interpretations are Giulini’s.These live performances let us “attend”these joyful events in which the conductor’sconceptions, from very subtle shadings andnuances to expansive climaxes, are deliveredwith a sureness of playing and ensemble thatis a tribute to everyone involved. It’s sucha refreshing pleasure to hear performancesof this calibre. The sound is nothing shortof astounding being crystal-clear, moredynamic than the sound from a broadcast,plus realistic front to back perspective. TheHaydn Surprise Symphony coupled, as it wasradiant, extroverted reading of the MahlerFirst (SBT2 1462, 2 CDs specially priced). Amust have. The Schubert Eighth and Ninthfrom February 1977 (SBT1436) are followedby a brilliant concert from January 1977 inwhich Pictures at an Exhibition is precededby Webern’s Six Pieces for Orchestra, opus(SBT1464). From February 1984 Giuliniconducts Das Lied von der Erde with BrigitteFassbaender and Francisco Araiza (SBT1465).BRUCE SURTEESConductor and soloists seem to havebeen on tour with this work and, in fact,recorded it with the BPO for DG … howeverevery performance is unique and this onehas its felicities.NEWTON Classics is a recent arrival onthe reissue scene. Since their start-up in2009 their CD releases have been judiciouslyselected primarily from the Philips archives.The Dutch lyricdramaticsopranoGré Brouwenstijnhas been a longtime favourite, asheard in so manycomplete operasfrom Beethoven toWagner. Eminentlyrecommendable isher eponymous CDof arias by Wagner,Verdi, Weber andBeethoven containingrecordings fromconducted by Willemvan Otterloo andRudolf Moralt (Newton 8802061). ByronJanistwo Liszt concertos recorded in Moscow inseries have lost none of their impact. SevenGuion complete this audiophile favourite(8802061). Peter Schreier is not only anotable tenor of opera and lieder fame,he is also a conductor of note. The 1992recordings of the Brandenburgs by theKammerorchester Carl Philip Emanuel Bachare conducted with refreshing panachematched by a sparkling recording. Add twopackage is hard to resist (8802075). Savingthe best ’till last, the incomparable Ravel/Haitink/Concertgebouw 2CD set, onceavailable on a Philips DUO, makes a mostwelcome return (8802068, 2CDs). All theRavel showpieces are here; Bolero, LaValse, Rapsodie Espagnole, Le Tombeau deCouperin, Valses nobles et sentimentales,Ma Mère l’Oye, Menuet Antique, Daphniset Chloé Suite no.2, and, of course,Alborada del Gracioso and Pavane pourune infant dèfunte. These are all vital,beautifully shaded performances capturedin outstanding sound. The Bolero enjoysa rousing performance unequalled in itsimpact … this would have provided a totalworkout for Ida Rubinstein, the ballerina forwhom the piece was written. Welcome backto this premier collection.DOREMI, another artist-driven label, hasmeticulously restored historic recordings for17 years. Their catalogue embraces worksof every size and genre from every period,from early music to a lone South American20th century guitarist. DOREMI is wellknown for performances by famous and notso-famousviolinists and pianists. Of course,in this as in any other business, the consumerrules, necessitating recordings by artists forwhich there is a waiting, world-wide marketwhile at the same time rediscovering andresurrecting major talents that are all but forgottentoday, even by some collectors. Theirrecent set of the Beethoven 10 Violin Sonatasis a notable, if not colossal contribution inthis direction (DHR-8011-3, 3 CDs). The performanceson this setistHenri Temiankaand pianist LeonardShure were amongciansof the 20thcentury. Temiankawas clearly in theleague of Heifetz andMilstein and Shureranked with Arrauand Serkin. Thoughboth Temianka andsolo careers, theirrecording legacyis regrettably thin.As a young man Temianka achieved internationalfame when he won the Third Prizein the 1935 Wieniawski Violin Competitionin Warsaw; the second went to Davidcomposer. Active in England in the 1930s,he made recordings for Parlophone, and ineach member played a Strad once owned byPaganini. The Quartet was well known formany years mid-century and was the housequartet of RCA Victor. Just before thathe had been invited by Elizabeth SpragueCoolidge to perform the complete BeethovenElizabeth Coolidge Auditorium in the U.S.performances from January and Februarynow on CD. It took Jacob Harnoy monthsof meticulous restoration to transfer theproduct of that old technology, which whileinherently subject to surface noise, clicks andskips, did maintain the luminosity and beautyof Temianka’s playing. His violin sings andhis intonation and technique are impeccable.The revelation of hidden beauties is a joy.Broadly speaking, the outer movements aretaken at energetic brisk tempos while theslow movements are expressive in a way thatpenetrates the soul. If you have more than apassing interest in this repertoire, you owe itto yourself to hear these.68 thewholenote.comSeptember 1–October 7, 2011

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