BEETHOVEN: Consecration of the House Overture. Fidelio Overture. Coriolan Overture.
SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 4 in C minor "Tragic." Symphony No. 5 in B flat.
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 15. Piano Concerto No. 4 in
G, Op. 58.
STRAVINSKY: Petrushka. LALO: Symphonie espagnole, Op.21 SAINT-SAËNS:
HINDEMITH: Mathis der Maler. Concert Music for
Strings and Brass, Op.
50. STRAVINSKY : Firebird Suite. RAVEL: La valse.
BERLIOZ: Requiem, Op. 5.
CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11. Piano Concerto
No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21. Berceuse, Op. 57. Tarantella, Op. 43. 3 Ecossaises,
CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11. LISZT: Sonata in B
minor. Sonetto del Petrarca No. 104.
DVORAK: Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104. MUSSORGSKY-RAVEL: Pictures
at an Exhibition.
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36. DVORAK: Slavonic
Rhapsodies Nos. 1 and 21
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64. GOULD: Spirituals
GRIEG: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16. Two Elegiac Melodies. RACHMANINOFF:
Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18.
BACH: Four Orchestral Suites
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37. Piano Concerto No.
4 in G, Op. 58.
BERLIOZ: Roman Carnival Overture. Les Francs Juges Overture.
Benvenuto Cellini Overture. Waverly Overture. BEETHOVEN: Leonore Overture
No. 3, Op. 72a. Egmont Overture.
SCHUBERT: Impromptus, Op. 90. Impromptus, Op. 142.
Today's record collectors are indebted to those small organizations and individuals who take it upon themselves to make available outstanding historic performances that never have been issued on CD, or if they were, are long out-of-print. Bearac is in this important group, and has started a series of private issues of outstanding recordings of the past. The Bearac web site (http://www.bearacreissues.com) lists recordings they have thus far issued and also gives us a tantalizing look at future projects. Collectors are urged to check out the site, which gives information on how to obtain these fine recordings. The CDs are attractively packaged, but there are no program notes: there's more information about the performances on Bearac's web site than there is along with each disk. Some of the choicest items are listed above. A few comments about these:
Any rare recordings by Eduard van Beinum are welcome, and here we have his early '50s recordings of five Beethoven overtures as listed above. Consecration of the House, Fidelio and Coriolan coupled with two Schubert symphonies. The Beethoven are with the London Philharmonic, the Schubert with the Concertgebouw. Previous LP transfers of the Beethoven overtures were thin; this is their first issue on CD, and the transfer does justice to the originals which were recorded in London's Walthamstow Assembly Hall. Five Beethoven overtures were issued on the original London LP; the other two (Leonore No. 3 and Egmont) are on another Bearac reissue (listed above) rather incongruously coupled with four Berlioz overtures with Sir Adrian Boult conducting, performances that interest me little. A major issue offers Beethoven's Concertos 1 and 4 with Robert Casadesus recorded in stereo for Philips in March 1959 with Van Beinum and the Concertgebouw, a month before the conductor died from a heart attack. Apparently Philips had planned a complete cycle with this pianist and conductor; in February 1961 Casadesus recorded the Concerto No. 5 with Hans Rosbaud on the podium. These performances of Nos. 1 and 4 are stunning; no dawdling here—total playing time for both is slightly over one hour.
A major release in this series is the September 1943 recording of the Berlioz Requiem with Jean Fournet and the Emil Passani chorus and orchestra. This is one of the most impressive performance of the music ever recorded, the mono sound is incredible for the period, beautifully capturing rich acoustics of St. Eustache Church in Paris. Bearac's transfer is superb, infinitely superior to the Arkadia issue, long discontinued (Arkadia 785588). Another treasure is the Mitropoulos CD containing his early '50s recordings of Stravinsky, Lalo and Saint-Saëns. This is a dazzling, distinctive Petrushka, like no other I've heard, brilliantly played by the NYP. Zino Francescatti had recorded the Lalo about five years earlier for Columbia (available on Pearl 9250); this is his only other recording, and excellent it is. The CD is filled out with Danse macabre. Mitropoulos recorded three other symphonic poems of this composer; it's odd all four weren't included on the CD along with Petrushka, instead of the Lalo. Let us hope Bearac will issue more early recordings by Mitropoulos. There are treasures there!
A batch of early mono Epic recordings are included. Most welcome is Antal Dorati's September 1956 dynamic performance of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4. These sessions also produced the Hungarian conductor's September 1956 mono recording of Má Vlast, also available on Bearac, which is far superior to Dorati's October 1986 digital remake with the same orchestra, and more naturally recorded as well. Dorati never received the respect he so richly deserved, and reissue of his older recordings is always welcome. His recording of Pictures at an Exhibition made in February 1952 won the 1953 Gran Prix du Disque. It can be heard along with a splendid performance of Dvorak's Cello Concerto played by Tibor de Machula, who for years was principal cellist with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Antal Dorati's Minneapolis mono early '50s recordings of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 and Morton Gould's Spirituals for Orchestra are coupled on a single CD; these display the usual tight, unresonant mono sound of Mercury recordings of the era—not what I like to hear, but if it interests you, these transfers are excellent. From Philips recordings of 1957 (Grieg) and 1957 (Rachmaninoff) we have performances by Abbey Simon and the fine Dutch pianist Cor de Groot. Bearac's interest in pianists is exemplified by the disk of the two Chopin concertos played by Julian von Karolyi with Wilhelm Schuechter and the Berlin Philharmonic. You won't hear more refined performances of these concertos than these, and Bearac also gives us the opportunity to hear another pianist virtually unknown today: Russian Alexander Uninsky who can be heard in Chopin's Concerto No. 1 and Liszt's Sonata in B minor. Another intriguing release includes the 1953 recording of Schubert piano music played by Adrian Aeschbacher who was a pupil of Artur Schnabel.
Most of Eugene Ormandy's early mono recordings were never issued on CD and, if they were, have disappeared from the catalog, a situation Bearac is partially rectifying. Rudolf Serkin is the dynamic soloist in Beethoven's Concertos 3 and 4, recorded in the early '50s, superior to any of Serkin's later commercial recordings of this music, particularly the Telarc set with Ozawa/Boston Symphony. Ormandy at his best also can be heard in pre-stereo recordings of Hindemith's Mathis der Maler and Concert Music for Strings and Brass, Stravinsky's Firebird Suite and Ravel's La valse.
And there are many, many others, all worthy of investigation. For information about all of these and now to obtain them contact the producers: BEARAC REISSUES
R.E.B. (September 2006)