BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37. Piano Concerto No.
4 in G, Op. 58.
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 10. Cello Concerto No.
1 in E flat, Op. 107.
MOZART: Symphony No. 28 in C, K. 200. Symphony No. 33 in B flat, K.
319. Symphony No. 35 in D, K. 385 "Haffner," Serenade in G, K. 525 "Eine
kleine Nachtmusik." Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492.
BRAHMS: Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68. Variations on
a Theme of Haydn, Op. 56a. Hungarian Dances Nos. 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 (orch. Dvorak)
MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64. TCHAIKOVSKY: Violin
Concerto in D, Op. 35.
BACH: Suite No. 1 in E minor, BWV 996. Suite No. 2 in A minor, BWV 997.
Suite No. 3 in A minor, BWV 995. Suite No. 4 in E, BWV 1006a.
ELGAR: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85. Enigma Variations, Op. 36.
Pomp and Circumstance Marches Nos. 1 and 4.
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67. "How A Great Symphony
Here are ten more welcome mid-price additions to Sony Classical's Great Performances series (see review of the first ten). All are newly remastered using Sony's DSD system, and sound better than ever before—and since these were very good to begin with, audio buffs should be very pleased. Of particular interest is Leon Fleisher's near-definitive recordings with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra of Beethoven's Concertos 3 and 4; let us hope the remainder will follow soon. Szell and his splendid orchestra also can be heard in Mozart and Brahms, glorious performances all. Zino Francescatti's Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky concertos are welcome, but it's odd Sony didn't fill out the CD with other recordings they have with the master violinist.
The Shostakovich CD is particularly welcome, particularly in this new remastering. The Cello Concerto was recorded in November 1959 immediately after the first American performance of the work, an occasion that was Rostropovich's first appearance in Philadelphia, with the composer present not only for the concert but the recording sessions as well. The appropriate coupling is Symphony No. 1 recorded during the same sessions; the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski had given the Ameican premiere of the work in 1928. The Mitropoulos Prokofiev/Mussorgsky CD is another reminder of one of the superb conductors of the past in repertory perfect for him. This live performance of Elgar's Cello Concerto with Du Pré and Barenboim was recorded in the Academy of Music in Philadelphia November 27-28, 1970, a memorable performance. And what a pleasure it is to hear these remasterings of some of Eileen Farrell's finest recordings made 1958-1959 in Columbia's 30th Street studio. The only CD notes provided with this are comments by Brian Keller who co-authored the book, Can't Help Singing: The Life of Eileen Farrell. Sony's proof-reading seems a bit amiss: Eileen Farrell is a soprano, not a "mezzo-soprano" as identified twice in content listings. John Williams' 1974-75 recordings of Bach are self-recommending, and for those interested, Leonard Bernstein's CBS TV program analyzing the first movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 recorded in 1956 is now available along with his 1961 recording of the complete symphony. Bernstein's commentary is available in English, German, French, and Italian but "because of limited playing time" (each program is about 30 minutes) each language is on only one channel—if you wish to hear the commentary you are advised to "turn your amplifier balance as far right or left as possible and choose the appropriate track number." This is a very awkward situation for most listeners as some equipment will not permit this to be done without convoluted adjustments, or not at all. Timings are inaccurate for the commentary tracks. How much more convenient it would have been if Sony had included just the English commentary (which could have been accommodated on a single disk along with the complete performance), with the others available on the network.
R.E.B. (September 2006)