CARL SCHURICHT Decca recordings 1949 - 1956 all with Vienna Philharmonic
except those identified as Paris Conservatory Orchestra
ERICH KLEIBER Decca recordings 1949 - 1955 Amsterdam Concertgebouw
/Vienna Philharmonic/London Philharmonic and Cologne Radio Symphony orchestras
RODRIGO: Concierto de estio. SEMENOFF: Double Concerto. ELIZALDE:
MARTINON: Symphony No. 4, Op. 53 "Altitudes." Violin Concerto No. 2,
All of these issues are of major importance to collectors. In these convenient mid-priced sets we have all of the Decca recordings of Erich Kleiber and Carl Schuricht—in the past we had to wait for individual CD issues which were long in coming, and now in these fine new remasterings we can discard previous issues. We have the luxury of both of Erich Kleiber's recordings of the Pastorale, along with his magnificent historic recordings of Beethoven's Fifth, and both recordings of the Eroica. Carl Schuricht's Vienna recordings are far more worthy than those he made in Paris with a very French-sounding orchestra, but it's good to have them all. Clemens Krauss's famous 1954 recording of Salome is a bit of an enigma; why wasn't it recorded a few years earlier, and with Ljuba Welitsch? Christl Goltz was a famous exponent of the role who already had recorded the opera in 1950 with Joseph Keilberth conducting and would record it again in 1963 with Otmar Suitner on the podium—but her voice, at its best, was functional rather than beautiful, although dramatically convincing. Still it is welcome to have this Salome available at mid-price even though producers easily could have included more of Krauss's Strauss symphonic recordings. Actually all of these (Also sprach Zarathustra, Don Quixote, Don Juan, Till Eulenspiegel, Aus Italien, Symphonia domestica, Heldenleben and Bourgeois Gentilhomme suite) and the finale of this Salome, have already been issued at full-price on Testament—which doubtless is the reason why Decca couldn't issue them.
The testament disk of performances by Christian Ferras is of particular interest. The violinist, whose promising career came to a tragic end in 1982, can be heard in a 1954 recording of the Brahms concerto with the VPO included in the Schuricht set mentioned above, but here we have three works, the best known of which is the Rodrigo Concierto de estio ("Summer Concerto"), an early work of the composer heard here in a recording made in 1951, the first major recording of any work of the composer—and music that has seldom been recorded since. This performance is conducted by Ferras' mentor, Georges Enesco. Like the Rodrigo, the violin concerto by Spanish-born (1907) Federico Elizalde was written in 1943. Elizalde had quite a varied career as a jazz musician, bandleader, pianist, and conductor, also writing music for films. A real oddity is the Double Concerto by French composer Ivan Semenoff (b. 1917), written for the two soloists heard on this recording. According to the CD notes, the premiere was given in 1952 with Ferras, Barbizet and the composer conducting after which, supposedly, this recording was made—although credits for the recording show that it was made in 1951. At any rate, here are three masterful performances of relatively unknown works, very well recorded (1947-1951) in Decca's well-balanced mono sound.
Jean Martinon took over the position of musical director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1963 after Fritz Reiner left, a difficult position to fill indeed, particularly with the vindictive Claudia Cassidy, critic of the Chicago Tribune, maliciously and constantly undermining him until his departure in 1968. Martinon then led the French National Radio Orchestra and the Residency Orchestra in The Hague. He died in Paris in 1976. While in Chicago, Martinon made a number of memorable RCA recordings, few of which have been released on CD. His Bartók Miraculous Mandarin, Hindemith Noblissima Visione and Varese Arcana have been issued on RCA in their High Performance series, and another RCA CD contains a collection of Ravel works; neither issue really does sonic justice to what the RCA engineers taped in 1964-68. Now, to help fill the void in Martinon's discography, there is a private issue of music of Martinon, the Symphony No. 4 ("Altitudes"), commissioned by the Chicago Symphony to celebrate its 75th anniversary, recorded for RCA by the CSO and Martinon, and the second violin concerto with Henryk Szeryng as soloist with Rafael Kubelik and the Bavarian RSO, the latter a DGG recording long unavailable. Martinon surely was a finer conductor than a composer; some collectors may wish to have these, and for those interested, here they are in wonderful transfers on a small private label that has provided a service for collectors with these immaculate, wide-range transfers from pristine original LPs. For information on these, write to :email@example.com You also might wish to investigate another superb private issue of Martinon's CSO Ravel recordings plus a virtuoso performance of Roussel's Bacchus and Ariane Suite No. 2: contact: http://home.comcast.net/~LTTVR
R.E.B. (October 2004)