BRAHMS: Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68. WEBER: Invitation to
the Dance. J. STRAUSS II: On the Beautiful Blue Danube. Tales from the Vienna
LISZT: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2
HAYDN: Symphony No. 93 in D. MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, K.
467.RAVEL: Pavane for a Dead Princess. FALLA: Suite No. 2 from The
Three-Cornered Hat. VIVALDI: Concerto Grosso in D minor Op. 11 No. 3. BEETHOVEN: Piano
Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37. PISTON: Toccata. COPLAND: El Salón
WALTON: Troilus and Cressida
How fortunate for collectors that restoration master Mark Obert-Thorn has the opportunity and interest to continue his traversal of early recording's by Leopold Stokowski! There are many CDs issued on Pristine Audio of the conductor's acoustic, early electrical and later recordings—see the list on PRISTINE. Here now is another treasure, recordings made 1926 - 1927. The major work is a favorite of the venerable conductor, Symphony No. 1 by Brahms, the first of five recordings he made of the symphony. It is given an intensely dramatic reading, and it is amazing that the 1927 recording captures so much of the orchestra's rich sound. As a welcome plus, we have Stokowski's 4-minute discussion of the symphony. Weber's familiar piece is heard in the Berlioz orchestration further glamorized by the conductor's additions. The two Strauss waltzes had to be cut extensively to fit onto one disk side, and the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody, is given a rather erratic, exciting performance that fully demonstrates the orchestra's virtuosity. Mr. Obert-Thorn's transfers are amazing!. A remarkable issue in every way!
Pristine has championed live recordings by Guido Cantelli, who died tragically in an airplane crash in 1956 at the age of 36. The label already has issued a number of disks—you can check it on their website: PRISTINE AUDIO. Now we have this 2-disk set of two complete New York Philharmonic Carnegie Hall broadcasts, March 6 and 13, 1955. Two major pianists were featured, Walter Gieseking in his first collaboration with Cantelli playing Mozart's Concerto No, 21,, and Rudolf Firkusny, a master pianist highly respected, playing Beethoven's Concerto No. 3. Gieseking recorded profusel. If you search the internet, you can find several concert performances of concertos including the Dvorak, a specialty of his. The New York Philharmonic was inspired by Cantelli; these are vibrant performances in every way. The Vivaldi is played with full orchestral resources, far removed from any original instrument concept. Of particular interest are the two American works—the Piston Toccata, an 8-minute loud virtuoso piece, written for Charles Munch, who was in the audience. Andrew Rose's restoration of original tapes is remarkably clear. All of James Fassett's announcements are included along with audience reaction adding to the sense of occasion. A great issue!
Sir William Walton's opera Troilus and Cressida was commissioned by the BBC and it took seven years for him to complete it. He had Elisabeth Schwarzkopf in mind for the role of Cressida, but she was uncomfortable performing live in English and decided not to sing the premiere. This took place December 3, 1954 with Hungarian soprano Magda Laszlo as the leading lady. ¹he opera had its U. S. premiere in San Francisco in October 1955 with Erich Leinsdorf conducting, Dorothy Kirsten as Cressida and Richard Lewis as Troilus. The New York premiere was at the same time by the New York City Opera. and the following year it was given at La Scala. Walton later transposed the role of Cressida for a mezzo-soprano; Janet Baker later made a fine recording.
Six years ago Pristine issued a superb remastering of the 1955 EMI disk of highlights featuring Elisabeth Schwarzkopf as Cressida with the composer on the podium. How unfortunate they did not record the complete opera! (REVIEW). Pristine's new issue is a live performance made shortly after the premiere, December 21, 1954, remastered from BBC broadcast tapes. Magda Laszlo is Cressida, Richard Lewis in top form as Troilus (he also sang in the 1955 recording), and the rest of the cast is strong. The performance was not a total success. Program notes give details of various problems with the production, particularly involving Sir Malcolm Sargent, who had little previous experience in conducting opera. This, then, is a sometimes prosaic but intriguing performance of Walton's masterpiece. No libretto is provided, but there are 38 cuing tracks, and BBC comments are included. This is a grand and often passionate opera, and this is a welcome addition to the catalog.
R.E.B. (May 2017)