DUTILLEUX: Sur le meme accord (French National Orch/Kurt Masur). BARTÓK: Violin Concerto No. 2. Boston Symphony Orch/Seiji Ozawa). STRAVINSKY: Concerto in D. (Philharmonia Orch/Paul Sacher).
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violinist
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON B0004049 (F) (DDD) TT: 68:46
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TARTINI: Violin Concerto in D minor (ed. Penter; arr. Szigeti). BACH: Arioso (Largo from Clavier Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056, arr. Szigeti). Concerto for Two Violins, BWV 1043 (with Carl Flesch, violinist). Violin Concerto in D minor (restored by Reitz from Clavier Concerto in D minor, BWV 1952). Violin Concerto in G minor (restored by G. Schreck from Clavier Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056; ed. Szigeti).
Joseph Szigeti, violinist; New Friends of Music, Columbia and unidentified orch/Walter Goehr/Fritz Stiedry/George Szell
NAXOS 8.110979 (B) (ADD) TT: 67:19
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IVES: The Housatonic at Stockbridge; Soliloquy, or a Study in 7ths and Other Things; On the Antiodes. The Gong on the Hook and Ladder (original version); Hallowe'en; In Re Con Moto et al; Sunrise; Remembrance; Aeschylus and Sophocles; Five Take-offs: The Seen and Unseen? (Sweet and Tough); Rough and Ready et al. and/or The Jumping Frog; Song without (Good) Words; Scene Episode; Bad Resolutions and Good WAN! )(Jan. 1, 1907); Three Quarter-Time Pieces: Largo, Allegro, Chorale.
Continuum/Cheryl Seltzer and Joel Sachs, directors
NAXOS 8.559194 (B) (DDD) TT: 48:52
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MALILPIERO: Fantaisie di Ogni Giorno. Piano Concerto No. 3. Notturno di Canti e Balli.
Benjamin Owen, pianist; Louisville Orch/Robert Whitney, cond.
FIRST EDITION FECD 0036 (F) (ADD) TT: 48:56
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In one respect all of these are reissues, with the single exception of Henri Dutilleux’s Sur le meme accord (that is, “On the same chord”), a nine-minute work that Anne-Sophie Mutter commissioned when she was 16 but waited half a lifetime (give or take a couple of years) to receive and introduce at Paris during November 2003. This a live Radio France recording, and a very good one as mastered at DGG’s Emil Berliner Studios in Berlin. Whether Dutilleux’s famously fastidious craftsmanship will appeal depends on one’s memory of the four-note chord played note-by-note pizzicato at the start. Though I don’t expect to listen again after two hearings, the work is undoubtedly the handiwork of France’s senior doyen since the death of Olivier Messiaen. Even Pierre Boulez, who inhabits a different planet esthetically, is nine years younger. Otherwise, the Bartók collaboration with Ozawa and the Boston Symphony made during the 1990-91 season effaces the “new” French work before it reaches the Hungarian master’s fifth measure. This is not the sharp-edged Bartók of Kyung-Wha Chung and Georg Solti, made 20 years earlier in Chicago and long a “modern” benchmark, but – how to put it? – a more cushioned approach to those sharp edges, which is not to say soft or flaccid. Ozawa still had a fist when the score instructed, but the orchestra is luxuriant rather than knife-sharp, and Mutter altogether more humane than Chung. The remastering is a marvel of integration with its disc-mates, and the 1988 version of neo-baroque Stravinsky (which I had not known even existed) is on a par with Perlman’s earlier DGG version with Ozawa. That Paul Sacher at his advanced age could muster such a fastidious and muscular accompaniment was a feat in itself; Stravinsky, I think, would have approved. If the music beguiles you, this collection can be a valuable addition to your collection.

The Szigeti performances of mostly transcribed baroque music began in London with the Tartini/Pente, Bach/Szigeti and Bach Double during 1937, with faceless Walter Goehr conducting a deservingly anonymous group of players. Carl Flesch, Szigeti’s partner in the latter work (the only one not transcribed ), may have been past his prime as a player – although his renown as a teacher was transatlantic – but he is a better violinist here than Tully Potter’s annotation insists. The two concertos reworked from Clavier Concertos (which baroque specialists are inclined to believe Bach made from lost originals for violin) are products of Szigeti’s American years: the D minor (“restored by Reitz” from BWV 1052) in 1940 with stolid Fritz Stiedry and a New York pickup orchestra called New Friends of Music, and the G minor (“restored by G. Schreck” from BWV 1056, further edited by Szigeti) in 1954 with George Szell quite brutally conducting members of his Cleveland Orchestra, masquerading as a Columbia [Records] Symphony Orchestra. Oddly, perhaps even weirdly, Szigeti never recorded the two surviving concertos Bach wrote specifically for the violin. What survives here, with the possible exception of the “Double,” is not kind to his memory, and even as a wholehearted Szigeti admirer I cannot endorse these resurrections or their release. There is only so much that Mark-Obert Thorn was able to do in remastering originals on various American Columbia 78-labels.

The six Ives Songs, three chamber pieces, and eight piano works – altogether less than 50 minutes of music – were recorded in 1986 and ‘87 and originally released by the Musical Heritage Society. They fill in some gaps, and for the most part are played and sung with as much expertise as scholarly ardor by a dedicated new-music nonet, co-directed by Cheryl Seltzer and Joel Sachs (who play the “Three Quarter-Tone Pieces” on two pianos tuned to 24 pitches). Ivesians will rejoice at the restoration of this material, beyond saying which let me dust off three works by Gian Francesco Malipiero, who lived to be 93 but is little remembered today. These come from the Louisville Orchestra’s First Edition series, recorded between 1954 (the Third Piano Concerto) and 1966, all in mono and pretty scrappily played in the bracketing orchestral pieces, especially the Noturrno [sic]. The 1948 concerto is the oldest work, one of some transient charm as played by Benjamin Owen but not of repertory caliber. The other two pieces are a mixed bag stylistically that have abrupt endings in common – or perhaps “stoppages” is the more accurate noun. At 48:56 this offers just eight minutes more of music than the Ives collection, but altogether less distinctive much less intriguing music. Those who disagree are advised that it is available, thanks to the Santa Fe Music Group, which is dedicated to reissuing all 168 Louisville releases between 1949 and 1995 – dross as well as works of enduring value. This one I’m afraid, like a Boris Blacher collection I couldn’t listen to all the way through last month, goes in the dross bin.


R.D. (July 2005)