4 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 4 - December 2011

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Old Wine, New Bottles |

Old Wine, New Bottles | Fine Old Recordings Re-ReleasedTis a Limited-Edition, 50-CD set ofoutstanding performances and recordingsdating from 1957 until 2009 packaged inches of shelf space. As to be expected,there are many familiar works and a wealthof off the beatentrack items. A veryimportant factor inthis particular collectionis the rosterof artists, manyexclusive to Decca,heard at their distinguishedbest in theirchosen repertoire.Even though thereare no subsequentre-mastering datesrevealed, in nocases did anyperformance soundless than freshlyminted with spacious,translucentsound clarifying textures tures from top to bottom.The complete list of contents may be seenon the Decca web site board facsimile of the original CD cover.The 198 page booklet gives complete detailsof recording dates, venues, producers, etc.,together with an extensive history of Deccafrom 1937 when Edward Lewis assembled ahand-picked collection of experienced soundengineers including the inspired and inspiring,forward-looking Arthur Haddy whoheaded the Decca team for decades. Giventhe excellence of the contents and presentation,at about .50 per disc this package isjust about irresistible.Eileen Joyce: The Complete Parlophone. Today, only collectors and archivistsrecognize her name, but in the 1930s, 40sand 50s Eileen Joyce was a pianist held inhigh esteem by her fellow musicians, criticsand record collectors. She was born inTasmania in 1908 and grew up in BoulderCity, Western Australia. Her talent wasrecognized at an early age. Later PercyGrainger described her as “the most transcendentallygifted child he had ever heard.”She studied in Leipzig from 1927 until shemoved to London early in 1930 where shewas accepted by Tobias Matthay, one of thegreat musical pedagogues of his time, whosemethods had produced many successfulpianists including Myra Hess and CliffordCurzon. Her career took off in 1933 andshe was in demand both as a recitalist andB R U C E S U R T E E Sin concertos, appearing with such conductorsas Beecham, van Beinum, Karajan, deSabata, Celibidache, Ormandy, Wood, Szelland the rest. In those days it was still acceptedand indeed expected that performingartists would have their own signaturestyle and sound. Therefore there was morevariation betweenthem, as to howthey produced theirsounds and howthey projected it inthe music. The collectorsof historicrecordings are fascinatedby this in-dividuality which has become rare in the lasthalf century. Bryce Morrison states in theinformative liner notes that “Virtually all ofher recordings in this issue have the powerto reinvent themselves so that you seem to Joan Sutherland – The Complete Decca StudioEdition). The late Joan Sutherland (1926–2010) was one of the outstanding sopranosof the last century and she was known to themillions who were never privileged to hearher live through her many Decca recordingsof operas and recitals. She was a commanding won her a devoted following. To honour her,Decca has assembled every one of her studiorecitals and packaged them in this attractiveset. Her husband Richard Bonynge was, progressively,her pianist, coach and conductor.They married in 1954 and he directed hertowards the baroque repertoire, the bel cantoperiod and French works of the 19th century.The turning point in her career came on theevening of February 17, 1959, when she sang Garden in 35 years of Lucia de Lammermoor.The performance was a well-deserved triumphfor Sutherland and immediately hername was recognized in operatic circlesaround the world. She retired from the stagein 1990. Included in the 23 CDs are Art ofthe Prima Donna, Command Performance,Age of Bel Canto, The Noel Coward Album,Songs My Mother Taught Me, The MozartAlbum and many more. The albums datefrom 1959, Operatic Arias through to 1986,Talking Pictures—Songs from the Movies and Romantic Trios for soprano,horn and piano, with Barry Tuckwelland Bonynge (all born in Sydney —a niceending to her recording career). The enclosedbooklet contains full recording details and ashort biography.It was with singular pleasure that I listenedto the second suite from Daphnis et Chloéplayed by the Bavarian Rundfunks Orchestraon this new release from Tahra. Jochumfounded the orchestra in 1949 at the biddingof Bavarian Radio, creating one of Europe’s Ravel suite is an excellent example of thecomposer’s meticulous craftsmanship andthisvirtuoso performance from October1950 is played with an unexpected subtle- interpretation. Annelies Kupper was aGerman operatic soprano, well knownand admired in her day as an interpreterof Mozart, Wagner and Richard Strauss.Her repertoire on CD is quite extensivebut here, from December 1950 is her onlyrecording rd of The Four Last Songs, richlysung with assurance and ardor and sumptuouslysupported by Jochum. The overture toDie Fledermaus is played with a sparklingexuberance that is usually heard only fromthe pit. The overture to Handel’s Agrippinais followed by Mozart’s Rondo K382 for pianoand orchestra played with Edwin Fischerat the 1954 Wurzburg Festival. There areno complaints about the sound which isfull-bodied, often with a natural, front toback dimension and with virtually no recordingartifacts. This is the 23rd CD fromTahra devoted to performances conductedby Jochum and all the works are new to hisrecorded repertoire.There can be no denying that there wasa unique sound to the French School ofstring quartet playing, such as the Calvet,Loewenguth, Parrinen, Krettley and Pascalquartets. All were characterized by theirelegance and purity of style, immaculateintonation and humility in the face of themusic. DOREMI has issued Quartets performed by the Pascal Quartet,circa 1952 .Mozart string quartets, particularly the ten gems in classical music. In listening to thePascals playing one senses that they areplaying for the love of the music and thatthe microphone just happens to be listeningin. The juvenile quartets are played withthe same respect and appreciation. Theoriginal recorded sound was ideal in everyrespect and the meticulous transfers fromthe Musical Masterpiece Society LPs restorethese radiant performances to life. This setis essential Mozart.A more detailed version of this columncan be found at thewholenote.comDecember 1 – February 7, 2012

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