BEETHOVEN:  Consecration of the House Overture.  BRAHMS:  Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77.  DEBUSSY:  Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun.
Nathan Milstein, violinist; Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orch; Pierre Monteux, cond. (all recorded Oct. 12, 1950)

AUDIOPHILE CLASSICS APL 101.559 (M) (ADD) TT:  60:30
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ELGAR:  Enigma Variations, Op. 36 (Oct. 12, 1950).  WEBER:  Konzertstück in F Minor, Op. 79 (Oct. 17, 1939).  SIBELIUS:  Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47 (Nov. 1, 1950).
Lili Kraus, pianist; Jan Damen, violinist; Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra; Pierre Monteux, cond.

AUDIOPHILE CLASSICS APL 101.560 (M) (ADD) TT:  77:01
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BRAHMS:  Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68.  STRAUSS:  Don Juan, Op. 20.  Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome
Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orch; Herbert von Karajan, cond.

AUDIOPHILE CLASSICS APL 101.555 (M) (ADD) TT:  71:37
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Here are three worthy additions to the Audiophile Classics series of issues of older performances, mostly recorded live, of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Some of these have been issued previously on full-priced Tahra CDs in a set called Monteux in Amsterdam; that set has been deleted and was full price. These mid-price issues offer sound of the same quality. These live performances, even the one recorded in 1939, have been realistically recorded by the Dutch radio engineers. Monteux's Consecration is a rather labored interpretation, but grand in scale. He is the ideal accompanist for Lili Kraus in this scintillating performance of Weber's charming Konzertstück, and for Milstein in his sterling performance of the Brahms concerto—at the time of this recording—1950—he was at the height of his powers, and five years later he would record this concerto with Steinberg and the Pittsburgh Symphony (briefly available on EMI Classics - 66550).  Jan Damen, who was concertmaster of the Concertgebouw for many years, has a technical slip at the beginning of the last movement of the Sibelius; otherwise all is fine.  At about the same time Damen recorded this concerto with Eduard van Beinum and the London Philharmonic for Decca, a performance not yetissued on CD.  Enigma is another Monteux specialty; I have long treasured his 1970 recording with the London Symphony (now available on a mid-priced London Classic Sound CD—542303—coupled with Karajan's VPO Planets).  Now we have this live performance from more than two decades earlier, spectacularly played by the Amsterdam orchestra.

The third CD contains most of Karajan's commercial recordings with the Dutch orchestra (the others are Weber's Der Freischütz Overture and Beethoven's Leonore Overture No. 3). He appeared as guest of the Concertgebouw in January 1938, returning in 1943 to make this series of recordings for Deutsche Grammophon.  Notes suggest Karajan didn't appear more often because of his "wartime activities" (in addition to his huge fee), and kindly refer to his support of the Nazi regime as "alleged" when it is a known fact he was not only a Nazi but a Party member twice over, registered both in Salzburg and Aachen. These recordings are outstanding in every way displaying the youthful Karajan in a Brahms First devoid of the preciousness of his later recordings, a swaggering Don Juan, and a sensuous "Dance of the Seven Veils."  Notes state this is their first appearance on CD, which is not correct —all were included in the DG series of Karajan—The Early Years, long out of print.  These transfers are superb and all three CDs are highly recommended, particularly the Monteux live performances which vividly convey the exalted state of music-making in Holland at the time.

R.E.B. (Feb. 2002)