BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 1 in C minor. Symphony No. 2 in C minor. Symphony No. 3 in D minor. Symphony No. 4 in E flat "Romantic." Symphony No. 5 in B flat. Symphony No. 6 in A. Symphony No. 7 in E. Symphony No. 8 in C minor. Symphony No. 9 in D minor. Te Deum,
Emmy Loose, soprano; Hildegard Rössel-Majden, alto; Anton Dermota, tenor; Gottlob Frick, bass; Wien Singverein (Te Deum); Vienna Symphony Orch/Volkmar Andreae, cond.
MUSIC & ARTS CD 1227 (9 disks) TT: app. 8 hrs. 48 min.

BACH: Orchestral Suite No.3 in D (24/10/1948). BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61 (Yehudi Menuhin) (24/10/1948). Symphony No. 3 in E flat, Op. 55 "Eroica." (two versions) (20/06/1950 & 08/12/1952). Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 (two versions)(25/05/1947 & 23/05/1954). Symphony No. 6 in F, Op. 68 "Pastorale." (two versions (25/05/1947 & 23/05/1954). BLACHER: Concertante Music for Orchester (27/04/1954). BRAHMS: Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a (20/06/1950). Symphony No. 3 in F, Op. 90 (two versions) (18/12/1949 & 27/04/1954). Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98 (24/10/1948). BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 8 in C minor (15/03/1949). FORTNER: Violin Concerto (Gerhard Taschner) (18/12/1949). GLUCK: Alceste Overture (05/09/1951). HANDEL: Concerto Grosso in D, Op. 5 No. 6 (27/04/54). HANDEL: Concerto Grosso in D minor, Op. 6 No. 10 (20/06/1950). HINDEMITH: Concerto for Orchestra, Op. 28 (20/06/1950). Symphony Die Harmonie der Welt (08/12/1952). MENDELSSOHN: Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream (28/09/1947). SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 8 in B minor "Unfinished" (two versions) (24/10/1948) & 15/09/1953. Symphony No. 9 in C (15/09/1953). Rosamunde Overture (15/09/1953). SCHUMANN: Manfred Overture (18/12/1949). STRAUSS: Don Juan, Op. 20 (27/04/1954). WAGNER: Siegfried's Funeral Music from Götterdämmerung (19/12/1949) . Prelude to Die Meistersinger (19/12/1949). Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde (27/04/1954). WEBER: Oberon Overture. Der Freischütz Overture (08/12/1952).
Berlin Philharmonic Orch/Wilhelm Furtwängler, cond.
AUDITE 21.403 (13 disks)

MOERAN: Sinfonietta. D'INDY: Jour d'été à la montagne (BBC Symphony Orch). BERNERS: The Triumph of Neptune (Trevor Anthony, bass).
Royal Philharmonic Orch/Sir Thomas Beecham, cond.

WGNER: Parsifal
Wolfgang Windgassen (Parsifal); Martha Mödl (Kundry); Gustav Neidlinger (Amfortas); Otto Von Rohr (Gurnemanz); Heinz Cramer (Klingsor);Württenberg State Opera Chorus; Paris Opéra Orch/Ferdinand Leitner, cond.
PROFIL HÄNNSLER PHO 9009 (4 disks)

"Zarzuela and Spanish Orchestral Music" - music of Chapi, Soutullo, Chueca, Luna, Bretón, Granados, Albéniz and Turina.
Gran Orquesta Sinfonica/Orchesta Nacional de Espana/Ataúlfo Argenta, cond.

Here are two important massive CD compilations. The first, from Music & Arts, features all of Bruckner's symphonies plus the Te Deum, conducted by Swiss conductor Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962) , who dedicated his life to the composer. He first heard Bruckner's music in 1902 when Richard Strauss conducted a Berlin performance of Symphony No. 2. After that Andreae focused on Bruckner's music and was considered to be among the most important conductors of his music. It is reported during his career he gave more than forty performances of several of the symphonies. In his tenure with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra (1906-1949), at least three Bruckner symphonies were played each season as well as several cycles of all nine. In 1954, at the age of 75, Andreae was awarded the Bruckner Ring of Honor. Music & Arts offers these mono recordings that until how have had limited circulation. The first two symphonies were issued briefly on Remington and Philips, but with the advent of stereo soon were forgotten. What we have here is a Bruckner cycle recorded with the Vienna Symphony for the Austrian radio in January/February 1953. The Robert Haas editions of numbers 1, 2, and 4 are used, Rättig's of No. 3, Gutmann's of No. 7, and Haslinger's of No. 9, along with original versions of Nos. 5, 6 and 9. These performances are of keen interest—they are among the earliest recordings of these works— well played by the VSO that sounds a bit under-staffed. Aaron Z. Snyder did restorations using digital transfers from original tapes and successfully overcame many of the technical problems. He also corrected "momentary pitch errors in the French horn and other instruments" by digitally changing the pitch of false notes, and did so unobtrusively.

Audite's 12-CD set of offers the complete series of available RIAS recordings made from 1947 to 1954 with Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Berlin Philharmonic. Part of the label's Legendary Recordings series, the original analogue tapes were used and these performances, a majority of which have been released many times in the past, sound better than on previous releases. We have two recordings each of Beethoven symphonies 3, 5 and 6, Brahms 3, and Schubert 8. Of particular interest is the concerto for violin and large chamber orchestra by Wolfgang Fortner (1907-1987) played by Gerhard Taschner who at the time was concertmaster of the BPO—a recording never before issued. In this set we have the distinguished conductor at his best and worst. His beat (or lack of same) was a problem for most orchestras including those he worked with most often. Some of the playing is sloppy, some just plain wrong (the Handel and Bach). But when things worked they did so magnificently. There is a "bonus" CD of dubious value recorded February 27, 1951called "Colloquium in the 'Hochschule für Musik,' Berlin," with Werner Egk and his students interviewing "W. Furtwängler" in German. It is unfortunate Audite doesn't provide a translation of this. However, for Furtwängler admirers, this set is essential, particularly at its budget price.

Somm's Beecham Collection has an intriguing disk of three concert performances of music by composers Sir Thomas knew well and played often. We have Moeran's delightful Sinfonietta from a Royal Philharmonic concert in Royal Albert Hall April 26, 1947, D'Indy's Jour d'été à la montagne with the BBC Symphony in Maida Vale Studio October 6, 1951, and Lord Berner's The Triumph of Neptune (omitting one section) from a concert in Davis Theatre, Croydon, November 10, 1946, featuring bass Trevor Anthony, rather off-mike, singing The Last Rose of Summer parody. This score was a favorite of Beecham's. He featured it often during his concerts and recorded it twice, in 1937 with the London Philharmonic, then, in 1952, with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Audio is satisfactory on these new releases, considering their age, and Beecham collectors will find them essential.

Profil has resurrected many intriguing performances from the archives, but their decision to issue a performance of Parsifal recorded live at the Grand Opéra in Paris March 26, 1954 is questionable. There are almost fifty recordings currently available of Wagner's "sacred festival drama" including many live performances. Wolfgang Windgassen, a leading Parsifal of the time, can be heard in many other performances of the tital role under conductors Herbert von Karajan, Eugen Jochum, Hans Knappertsbusch and Erich Leinsdorf. Martha Mödl's famous Kundry is also featured in several of these. No details are provided of circumstances of this newly-issued performance that features the Württemberg State Opera Chorus and the Paris Opéra Orchestra. Was it some kind of festive occasion? We may never know. The mono sound is very good for the time, highlighting the singers, but this is not an inexpensive reissue, and no libretto is provided.

Ill-health plagued Spanish conductor Ataúlfo Argenta (1913-1958) who died at the height of his career in his home from carbon monoxide inhalation. He was known for his many recordings of Spanish music (he recorded over 50 zarzuelas), and made first recordings of a number of important works by Rodrigo. In the early days of stereo, Argenta made a series of recordings for Decca/London. Some of these already have been issued by Medici Arts including works of Falla with mezzo soprano Teresa Berganza and pianist Gonzalo Soriano, Now we have this welcome issue of Spanish orchestral music, excerpts from various zarzuelas along with Guridi's Diez melodies vascas, the intermezzo from Goyescas by Granados, Navarra by Albéniz, the Turina's La procesión del Rocio and La oración del torero. These vivid performances have been beautifully recorded and sound better than ever on this superb reissue. You also might wish to investigate EMI's Argenta issue in their Great Conductors series, now, courtesy of ArkivMusic, again available.

R.E.B. (August 2009)