SIBELIUS: The Tempest, Op. 109 No. 1. Night Rise and Sunrise, Op. 73. The Oceanides, Op. 73. WAGNER: Preludes to Acts I and III of Lohengrin. Prelude and Good Friday Spell from Parsifal.
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orch.(Sibelius/Lohengrin); Berlin Philharmonic Orch/Eugen Jochum, cond.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 5484 (M) TT: 67:08
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STRAVINSKY: Le Sacre du Printemps. Pétrouchka.
Berlin RIAS Symphony Orch/Ferenc Fricsay, cond.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 5485 (M) TT: 64:00
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ROSSINI: La Scala di seta, Il signor Bruschino, Tancredi, L'Italiana in Algeri overtures (Stuttgart Radio SO/Gianluigi Gelmetti, cond.). L'Inganno felice overture (Polish Chamber Orch/Jerzy Maksymiuk, cond.). L'assedio di Corinto overture (London SO/Thomas Schippers, cond.). Guillaume Tell overture (Royal Philharmonic Orch/Lamberto Gardelli, cond.). Il barbiere di Siviglia overture (Royal Philharmonic Orch/Vittorio Gui, cond.). La Cenerentola overture (Philharmonia Orch/Tullio Serafin, cond.). Il viaggio a Reims overture (Vienna Philharmonic Orch/Sir Malcolm Sargent, cond.). La cambiale di matrimonio, La gazza ladra, Semiramide overtures (Royal Philharmonic Orch/Sir Thomas Beecham, cond.). Le Comte Ory overture (Glyndebourne Festival Orch/Vittorio Gui, cond.). Il turco in Italia (La Scala Orch/Gianandrea Gavazzeni, cond.). ROSSINI-RESPIGHI: La Boutique fantasque (Royal Philharmonic Orch/Sir Eugene Goossens, cond).
EMI CLASSICS 50889 (2 CDS) (B) TT: 78:56 & 77:22
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TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23. Piano Concerto No. 2 in G, Op. 44. Piano Concerto No. 3 in E-flat, Op. 75. PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 5 in G minor, Op. 55. BARTOK: Piano Concerto No. 2. Emil Gilels, pianist; New Philharmonia Orch (Tchaikovsky); Sviatoslav Richter, pianist; London Symphony Orch (Prokofiev); Orchestra de Paris (Bartok)/Lorin Maazel, cond.
EMI CLASSICS 50849 (2 CDS) (B) TT: 70:33 & 73:44
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TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36. (Czech Philharmonic Orch/Evgeny Mravinsky, cond. 1957). RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30 (Lev Oborin, pianist; Czech Philharmonic Orch/Leopold Stokowski, cond. 1961). MARTINU: Symphony No. 6 (Czech Radio Symphony Orch/Charles Munch, cond. 1967). STRAVINSKY: Le Sacre du printemps (Czech Philharmonic Orch/Igor Markevitch, cond. 1959). BEETHOVEN: Coriolan Overture (Czech Philharmonic Orch/George Szell, cond. 1959). BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique (Czech Philharmonic Orch/André Cluytens, cond. 1955). DVORAK: The Wild Dove, Op. 110 (Czech Philharmonic Orch/Taclav Talich, cond. 1954). SMETANA: The Moldau/From Bohemia's Meadows and Forests (Czech Philharmonic Orch/Karel Ancerl, cond. 1968. MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466 (Sviatoslav Richter, pianist; Czech Philharmonic Orch/Kiril Kondrashin, cond. 1950). PROKOFIEV: Violin Concerto No. 1 in D (David Oistrakh, violinist; Prague Symphony Orch/Rafael Kubelik, cond. 1947).
ANDANTE AN 2150 (4 CDS) (F) TT: 79:32 / 63:04 / 75:51 / 65:22
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DGG has issued something rare indeed and of dubious interest: Eugen Jochum's only recordings of music of Sibelius, recorded in November 1955 in Munich. Of infinitely more interest are some of the distinguished conductor's earliest Wagner recordings. The single paragraph of CD notes try unsuccessfully to relate Jochum's Sibelius to his Wagner. A mid-price issue for total collectors only. Of greater interest is the Stravinsky CD with Ferenc Fricsay and the Berlin Radio Symphony, mono recordings dating from 1953-1954. Fricsay's dynamic readings are well played, but recorded sound isn't up to standards of the era—and it is odd that this issue doesn't also include the Movements for Piano and Orchestra (with Margrit Weber) recorded in stereo in 1960 which was on DGG's previous issue (289 477 5485)

The Rossini collection is an odd compilation of old and new, the oldest the complete ballet The Fantastic Toyshop recorded in 1954 (which boasts bold stereo sound). The Turk in Italy was recorded the same year, next is Le Comte Ory from 1956, and three overtures conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham dating from 1958. EMI also includes the overture to The Siege of Corinth taken the1974 complete recording starring Beverly Sills. Most recent are four overtures with Gianluigi Gelmetti recorded in Stuttgart in which he seems to be trying to set a speed record—but it works. The collection is worth having just for the stylish Beecham performances.

Emil Gilels' 1970 recordings of Tchaikovsky's three piano concertos with Lorin Maazel and the New Philharmonia Orchestra have been acclaimed since their original release, and here they are at budget price sounding better than ever. Unfortunately Concerto No. 2 is played in the Siloti version which omits the major parts for solo violin and cello, equally unfortunate that the composer's Concert Fantasy, Op.56 wasn't recorded. However, all three concertos and the Fantasy are available (with the uncut Concerto No. 2) on EMI with Peter Donohoe, and on Virgin Classics with Mikhail Pletnev. But this new EMI release has a considerable bonus: Sviatoslav Richter's famous recordings of Bartok's Concerto No. 2 recorded in 1969, and Prokofiev's Concerto No. 5 recorded in 1972, all also with Maazel on the podium. Program notes are practically nonexistent, but this is a major bargain for the collector.

The first Prague Spring Festival took place in 1946 to celebrate the first anniversary of the Czech capitol's liberation by the Red Army from the Nazi regime. Andante here offers an extraordinary collection of performances recorded at the Festival from 1947-1968. The Czech Philharmonic appears in most of the performances, and a wide range of conductors as listed above. André Cluytens' Fantastique dates from the year of his first commercial recording of the work (with the French National Radio Orchestra), Igor Markevitch's Sacre from 1959, the same year he made his EMI stereo recording (Andante already has issued his live performance with the Vienna Philharmonic recorded in 1952.) It's always a pleasure to hear Charles Munch conducting Martinu, but Evgeny Mravinsky's Tchaikovsky Fourth from 1957 is a tumultuous affair, not as controlled as his famous Leningrad Philharmonic recording made in 1961. The gem of this collection is Leopold Stokowski conducting Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 from 1961. Lev Oborin is the pianist who struggles a bit with the notes (and plays the shorter first movement cadenza), but it's a pleasure to hear Stokowski revel in Rachmaninoff's concerto which he never recorded commercially. The radio broadcast sound is adequate. A handsome booklet accompanies this set; it's unfortunate the 4 disks are full-price, but for collectors this may not matter. And one can only wonder what other treasures are hiding in the Czech radio archives.

R.E.B. (May 2006)