PUCCINI:  Un bel di vedremo from Madama Butterfly (Grace Moore/June 23, 1936).  SCHUBERT:  excerpts from Rosamunde, Claudine von Villabella and Didone Abbandonata (Betty van den Bosch/Dec. 19, 1940). MOZART:  Bella mia fiamma, KV 528.  Exultate Jubilate, K. 165 (Ria Ginster/March 5, 1942).  BACH:  Excerpts from St. Matthew Passion (Jo Vincent/Hermann Schey/Ilona Durigo); Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orch/Willem Mengelberg, cond.

RAVEL:  Daphnis et ChloÈ Suite No. 2.  KODÁLY:  Peacock Variations.  DEBUSSY:  Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra (Walter Gieseking, pianist)
Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orch/Willem Mengelberg, cond.

The first listed CD is a rather odd collection of vocal/choral works conducted by Willem Mengelberg  All previously have been issued on CD in various forms; the Ria Ginster, Grace Moore and Betty van den Bosch selections are all included in the recent budget-priced Q Disc 10-CD Mengelberg set.  In all issues the opening moment of Exultate Jubilate is missing. Of great interest in this release are the informative program notes by  Paul Korenhof giving details of the Grace Moore concert June 23, 1936. The American soprano sang arias from Il re pastore, Louise, La bohËme and Madama Butterfly to an enthusiastic audience. Encores were demanded but Mengelberg, against them on principal, finally agreed to repeat  Un bel di, after which he left the podium. As audience enthusiasm continued, a piano was brought forward and Moore sang her "favourite song," Ciribiribin, which can be heard on the Q Disc set. Soprano Ruth Horna (1899-1983) in December 1941 sang Leonore in Fidelio with the Concertgebouw conducted by Eduard van Beinum, his only opera with the orchestra. The CD is filled out with about 29 minutes of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, a work given annually, from the famous recording of April 5, 1936. Notes state, "the last word goes to Willem Mengelberg in the speeches he made in 1928 and 1938 to commemorate respectively the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the Concertgebouw Orchestra," although these are not heard on the CD nor is text provided.

The second CD also contains music available elsewhere—all three are in the aforementioned Mengelberg set. The Ravel and Debussy works are from the same concert October 6, 1938, an anniversary all-French program. Both are superb; the only other Ravel Mengelberg recorded was BolÈro May 31, 1930. the only other Debussy, Faun, was recorded November 30, 1938. The Kodály is a major issue—the world premiere of a work commissioned by Mengelberg and his Orchestra—from a concert November 23, 1939.

Sound quality is excellent on both CDs, very, very good for the time and circumstances. 

R.E.B. (April 2001)