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Volume 19 Issue 7 - April 2014

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Old Wine, New Bottles |

Old Wine, New Bottles | Fine Old Recordings Re-ReleasedBRUCE SURTEESIn 1991 a new record label cameinto being when Continuum/Testament issued seven CDsthat restored several esteemedrecordings from the past of interest tto music lovers and collectors alike.Their first disc (SBT1001) featuredacclaimed hornist Aubrey Brain,Adolf Busch and Rudolf Serkinplaying the Brahms Horn Trio,Op.40 (rec.1933) coupled withReginald Kell playing the BrahmsClarinet Quintet with the BuschString Quartet (rec.1937). Theothers for that year were twomore Kell programs, discs byRichard Tauber, Yehudi Menuhinand a CD of Ten Top Tenors, a CDthat included Caruso, Roswaenge,Thill, Martinelli and others. Quiteunexpected was a CD of Alban Bergthat included the Violin Concertoplayed by Louis Krasner, whocommissioned the work, withthe BBC Symphony conductedby Anton Webern! (SBT1004). The sourcewas Krasner’s own acetates which were farless than pristine, but that was soon overlookedafter experiencing this enthrallingand unique performance. Today, some 500releases later, Testament is at the forefrontof issuing and reissuing licensed recordingsof outstanding performances of every classicalgenre by artists that are now deservedlylegendary, including conductors, instrumentalists,singers, symphony orchestras,chamber groups and two Ring Cycles,Keilberth from Bayreuth (1955) and Kempefrom Covent Garden (1957). From the last fewmonths, here are four out-of-the-ordinaryreleases of special interest:A 2-CD set from the 1962 Salzburg Festivalfeatures an August 19 performance withKarl Böhm and the Berlin Philharmonic(SBT2.1489). The program opens withMozart’s Symphony No.40 played in tempithat may sound to some ears to be on theslow side. However, that was how Böhmheard it and how he played it over the yearsin Dresden and everywhere else. As such theelegance is very pleasing. Hearing DietrichFischer-Dieskau singing Kindertotenliederwas always a moving experience and withBöhm and the Berliners supporting him,the 37-year-old singer is inspired. The big,after-the-intermission work is Also SprachZarathustra. DG had recorded a Böhmversion in 1958 but this later performanceis far more powerful, probing and intense.Böhm does not stay on the surface of thescore to give a brilliant effect but is fullyaware of and reveals the brooding energybeneath. A performance of this magnitudemost certainly adds new dimensions to thismighty tone poem.The Verdi Requiemwas played by theBerlin Philharmonicten days earlier at thesame 1962 SalzburgFestival, on this occasionconducted byHerbert von Karajan.The soloists wereLeontyne Price,Giulietta Simionato,Giuseppe Zampieri andNicolai Ghiaurov with theSingverein der GesellschaftderMusikfreunde Wien.Testament’s CD (SBT 1491)of the ORF’s recordingwas authorized by the SalzburgFestival. Frankly, I wondered whyissue yet another Karajan VerdiRequiem. From the ethereallybalanced strings and voices of the“Requiem and Kyrie,” the performanceunfolded, not as expectedbut as a haunting and respectful homage toVerdi, empathizing with his emotions andhis inspiration to write the work. The soloistsand chorus are fully enrolled, all rising to theoccasion.The world premiere performance ofBritten’s War Requiem, given in CoventryCathedral on May 30, 1960 is finally availableon CD (SBT 1490). Taking part in this historicevent were Peter Pears, Heather Harper,Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau with The City ofBirmingham Symphony Orchestra, TheCoventry Festival Choir, Boys of Holy Trinity,Leamington and Holy Trinity, Stratfordand John Cooper, organ, all conducted byMeredith Davies and the Melos Ensembleconducted by Benjamin Britten. The genesisof this work, commissioned in remembranceof the bombing of Coventry, is wellknown, together with the many obstacles tobe overcome. This is from the BBC’s originalrecording digitally remastered in 2013. Therehave been some picayune criticisms of theoccasional untidiness in the playing and someoff-the-beat entries or that therecording does not make certainpassages as clear as they wouldbe in a modern studio recording.For heaven’s sake! This is not anaudition tape! It’s an “historicdocument”! We can now hearhowthat notable first performancesounded to the people inattendance 54 years ago. There isa sense of occasion throughoutthe performance from instrumentalistsand singers alikeas all three soloists demonstratetheir total absorptionin their roles. I find this monauralrecording to be gripping, convincing andeminently moving.Noel Mewton-Wood was an Australianpianist, born in Melbourne in 1922. Hestudied at the Melbourne Conservatoriumand was passionate about all forms of music.In the 1930s he studied with Artur Schnabeland later with Frank Bridge. He had an enormoustalent and was highly regarded andrespected by his peers and many conductors,especially Beecham with whom heperformed often. Britten chose Mewton-Wood to premiere the revised version ofhis piano concerto and later to accompanyPears while he, Britten, was occupied withGloriana. Pears commissioned pieces to befeatured in their upcoming May 1953 concert.Later that year, devastated by the death of hispartner, the 31-years young Noel Mewton-Wood knowingly ingested cyanide. The fourmovementBritten Piano Concerto mentionedabove was recorded in 1946 by Mewton-Woodwith the London Symphony conducted byBasil Cameron. This BBC recording, previouslyun-released together with the songscommissioned by Pears for their recital, isnow on Testament (SBT 1493) with comprehensivenotes. The vivacious Britten concertois played with great gusto and the song cycles,To Poetry by Mátyás Seiber and Voices of theProphets by Alan Bush were recorded at thetime for broadcast by the BBC.News. Updates. Special Offers.Sign up for HalfTonesThe WholeNote mid-month e-letter.Scan the code or go to thewholenote.com/halftones toregister. You can also follow @TheWholeNote on twitter or‘Like’ The WholeNote at facebook.com/LikeTheWholeNote.78 | April 1 – May 7, 2014 thewholenote.com

SEASON PRESENTING SPONSORSPRING CONCERTSGet great seats now!HEIDIVAN HOESENGORTONSIR ANDREW DAVISBYRON STRIPLINGMardi Gras:New Orleans JazzTUE, APRIL 22 AT 8:00pmWED, APRIL 23 AT 2:00pm & 8:00pmJeff Tyzik, conductorByron Stripling, trumpet/vocalistBobby Floyd, organBob Breithaupt, drum setMahler Symphony 9WED, APRIL 30 AT 8:00pmTHU, MAY 1 AT 8:00pmSir Andrew Davis, conductorMahler: Symphony No. 9Tchaikovsky Symphony 6WED, MAY 7 AT 8:00pmTHU, MAY 8 AT 8:00pmSAT, MAY 10 AT 7:30pmSUN, MAY 11 AT 3:00pm*Peter Oundjian, conductorJean-Yves Thibaudet, pianoAndrew McCandless, trumpet (MAY 10 & 11)Rossini: Overture to La scala di seta(MAY 7, 8, 11)James MacMillan: Piano Concerto No. 3“Mysteries of Light” (CANADIANPREMIÈRE | MAY 7 & 8)Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No. 1(MAY 10 & 11)Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6“Pathétique”* May 11 at George Weston Recital Hall,Toronto Centre for the Arts.MendelssohnScottish SymphonyWED, MAY 14 AT 6:30pmTHU, MAY 15 AT 2:00pmSAT, MAY 17 AT 8:00pmMichael Francis, conductorHeidi Van Hoesen Gorton, harp(MAY 15 & 17)Tom Allen, host (MAY 14)Purcell: Dances from The Fairy QueenGinastera: Concerto for Harp andOrchestra (MAY 15 & 17)Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3“Scottish”Informative pre-concert chat in the Lobby on April 30.Post-concert chat onstage with Peter Oundjian on May 7.Post-concert party in the Lobby on May 10.Complimentary pre-concert appetizers on May 14.TICKETS START AT | ROY THOMSON HALL | 416.593.4828 | TSO.CAOFFICIAL AIRLINEAPRIL 23PERFORMANCE SPONSORMAY 10PERFORMANCE SPONSORAPRIL 22 & 23PERFORMANCE SPONSOR

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