MAHLER: Symphony No. 10 (Performing version by Deryck Cooke).
"Waltzes and Serenades"
TCHAIKOVSKY: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35. Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture. Francesca
da Rimini, Op. 32.
(NOTE: These private record companies have been discontinued, unfortunately)
There have been a number of "completions" of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 10, but the first to achieve international renown was that by British musicologist, composer and critic Deryck Cooke. There was a BBC broadcast in 1960 which angered the composer's widow, Alma Mahler-Werfel, who vetoed further performances/broadcasts. After much pressure from musicologists and her daughter, Anna Mahler, she finally approved the project and a series of performances followed. Eugene Ormandy requested and received permission to conduct the American premiere which took place November 5, 1965. This recording was made shortly thereafter, released in a Columbia 2-LP set, later issued on CD as a "Masterworks Portrait" (MPK 45882). The Philadelphia Orchestra made another recording of the Cooke version for RCA in 1978 with James Levine conducting—which didn't last long in the catalog. Ormandy was a fine Mahler interpreter. He made one of the first recordings of Symphony No. 2, recorded live June 1, 1935 with the Minnesota Orchestra, recently reissued on Biddulph. I heard Ormandy and the Philadelphians perform Symphony No. 10 when they came to Baltimore in 1965; it was a phenomenal, highly emotional performance, particularly the finale in which the famed Philadelphia strings soared. The recording is a magnificent performance. However, sonically this was not one of Columbia's best for the time. Strings were strident on the original LP issue, even more so on the CBS CD reissue. It is fortunate for collectors that Locked in the Vault has taken on this project. Working from the Columbia 4-track tape issue (H2M 7) which was superior to the LP issue, they have somewhat tamed the strings—this transcendent performance has never sounded better.
Also of major interest is Idlewild's issue of Tchaikovsky performed by the Boston Symphony under Charles Munch. Always a volatile conductor, Munch does not disappoint. This Romeo and Juliet was recorded March 12, 1956 and is about two minutes faster than his second recording April 3, 1961 (17:16 / 19:05) currently available on a deluxe Japanese transfer (REVIEW). The earlier version is more dynamic which also could be said of Francesca da Rimini which was taped April 23, 1956. Munch recorded this a second time, April 5, 1963, for the Readers' Digest with the Royal Phiharmonic produced by the legendary team of Charles Gerhardt and Kenneth Wilkinson, available on Chesky CD7 coupled with the Bizet symphony recorded during the same sessions. Both Francescas have near identical playing time (23:04 RCA / 23:14 Digest). The violin concerto was recorded February 9, 1959 and finds the famous Polish violinist in top form. Szeryng would make another recording of the Violin Concerto in June 1976 with Bernard Haitink and the Concertgebouw. Idlewild's digital transfers were done by Ramon Khalona, with restoration by John Wilson. Both did their tasks superbly. It is remarkable how much sound was on those early RCA LPs from which these were taken. High frequencies sizzle, balances are natural, bass firm if not overly powerful—and there is no trace whatever of surface noise.
The two other releases are welcome additions to the limited CD discography of American conductor Louis Lane. If you're interested in his work you must investigate one of his major recordings, the LITV issue of Beethoven's complete music for Prometheus (LITV 59); see REVIEW. Now we have the opportunity to hear him in lighter repertory, as listed above recorded in the early '60s. Expert performances all, sounding just fine on these splendid transfers made from immaculate copies of the original Epic stereo LPs.
Locked in The Vault releases are budget priced and available only from Locked in The Vault. The Idlewild Tchaikovsky CD is mid-price and available from them: via their website: email@example.com
R.E.B. (January 2004)