STRAUSS: Excerpts from Der Rosenkavalier, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Arabella and Daphne.
Elisabeth Höngen, contralto; Esther Rethy, soprano; Josef Herrmann, baritone; Torsten Ralf, tenor; Margarete Teschemacher, soprano; Mathieu Ahlersmeyer, baritone; Christel Goltz, soprano; Dresden State Opera Orch/Karl Böhm, cond.
PROFIL CD PH07039 TT: 76:18
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BEETHOVEN: Egmont Overture. BRAHMS: Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68. MAHLER: Kindertotenlieder.
George London, baritone; Cologne Radio Symphony Orch/Otto Klemperer, cond.
MEDICI ARTS CD MM 005 TT: 73:33

WAGNER: Overture to The Flying Dutchman. Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin. Wesendonck Lieder. Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde
Kirsten Flagstad, soprano; Royal Philharmonic Orch/BBC Symphony Orch (Lohengrin)/ Sir Thomas Beecham, cond.
SOMM-BEECHAM 20 TT: 67:33
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RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18. Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43. FAURÉ: Ballade in F sharp, Op. 19. LITOLFF: Scherzo from Concerto symphonique No. 4. TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23. FRANCK: Symphonic Variations. LISZT: Hungarian Fantasia. Rapsodie espagnole. Sonata in B minor. Hungarian Rhapsody No. 15 in A minor. Valse oubliée No. 1. Csardas macabre. En réve.BARTÓK: Piano Concerto No. 1. GLAZUNOV: Piano Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 92. OGDEN: Piano Concerto No. 1. Piano Sonata. Theme and Variations.
John Ogdon, pianist; various orch/cond.
EMI CLASSICS 92747 (4 disks) TT: 79:34 / 79:52 / 75:24 / 79:53
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SULLIVAN-MACKERRAS: Pineapple Poll. VERDI-MACKERRAS: The Lady and the Fool.
London Philharmonic Och/Sir Charles Mackerras, cond.
EMI CLASSICS FOR PLEASURE 93231 TT: 60:01
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Profil's Hänssler Edition CD of scenes from operas by Strauss is a tribute to Karl Böhm. Böhm was made general music and opera director in Dresden in 1933 where he remained until 1943.He called this "perhaps the most fruitful period" of his career, and his friendship with Richard Strauss resulted in many productions of his operas including several world premieres, with legendary casts. Excerpts from some of these recorded between 1939 and 1942 can be heard on this CD, in commercial and radio recordings, in transfers of highest quality. Of particular interest are excerpts from Die Frau ohne Schatten and Daphne featuring tenor Torsten Ralf who is perfect in the demanding roles of the Kaiser and Apollo. Also its a pleasure to hear other famous Strauss sopranos: Esther Rethy, Margarete Teschemacher and Christel Goltz. Profuse program notes are provided but no libretti. Let us hope for more treasures from Dresden.

Otto Klemperer was 70 at the time of these Cologne broadcasts in 1955 (he died almost two decades later). A year or so later he made his EMI recording of the Brahms First with the Philharmonia Orchestra. This one is equally fine, a high-energy performance although not as perfectly executed. A plus is George London's magnificent singing of Kindertotenlieder. A valuable disk for many collectors.

Sir Thomas Beecham conducted Wagner often throughout his career including several "Ring Cycles" at Covent Garden with all-star casts (Leider, Melchior, Thorberg, and Kirsten Flagstad). With Beecham, Flagstad sang only Brünnhilde and Isolde, plus a number of concerts. . This new CD offers the first authorized release of live very well remastered recordings of the Wesendonck-Lieder and Liebestod from December 21, 1951, and Beecham's Royal Philharmonic performance of Flying Dutchman Overture from a concert in Royal Festival Hall November 22, 1954. Also we have the Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin with the BBC Philharmonic from a Royal Festival Hall concert November 25, 1953. This is an important issue for fans of Beecham and Flagstad, released in collaboration with the Sir Thomas Beecham Trust in support of the Scholarship Fund.

British pianist John Ogdon (1937-1989) was another major pianist who lived a tragically short life. He pushed his career and life to the limit, had a severe breakdown, and eventually died of pneumonia perhaps brought on by undiagnosed diabetes. Ogdon was a powerhouse but sensitive pianist, and these four generously-filled CDs offer fine transfers of many of his dynamic recordings including a never released Paganini Rhapsody with Sir John Pritchard and the Philharmonia Orchestra recorded in 1963. Pritchard also conducts the Rachmaninoff Second, and the two Liszt works which never before have been issued on CD. Sir John Barbirolli conducts the Tchaikovsky and Franck, Sir Malcolm Sargent the Bartók, Lawrence Foster Ogdon's concerto, Louis Frémaux the Fauré and Litolff. The most recenty recording, from 1976, Glazunov's Concerto No. 1, was conducted by Paavo Berglund. Solo performances are Liszt's Sonata in B minor and several of his shorter works, and two solo piano works by Ogdon, the sonata, and Theme and Variations. Ogdon was a phenomenon. It's great for collectors to have these recordings available and at mid-price.

EMI's Classics for Pleasure issue of Sir Charles Mackerras conducting two of his ballet compilations is a total delight. Pineapple Poll dates from 1951 when young Sadler's Wells choreographer John Crank wanted a ballet based on music from Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, and Mackerras was glad to oblige. Bits from most G&S operettas are heard in arrangements for full orchestra, but not the entire score put together by Mackerras. The Lady and the Fool premiered three years later, also at Sadler's Wells, the story of a rich woman, La Capricciosa, who falls in love with a penniless clown and prefers life with him instead of with her wealthy suitors. The score is taken from operas by Verdi that at the time were relatively obscure, and, as arranged by Mackerras, doesn't sound very much like Verdi. The complete score is available on a Testament CD with Mackerras and the Philharmonia orchestra (SBT 1326). The new EMI is budget-price.

R.E.B. (August 2007)