Les nuits dete (London Philharmonic/Giulini 1975)
Poeme de lamour et de la mer (LSO/Svetlanov 1975)
Song of the Wood Dove (LSO/Norman del Mar 1963)
Symphony No.7 in A
Symphony No.35 in D, K385 (Haffner)
(all Halle Orchestra 1968/67/66)
Conducted by Sir John Barbirolli
Symphony No.1 in C (BBCSO 1956)
Polovtsian Dances (London Philharmonic Choir, Royal Philharmonic 1954)
Le Coq dor Suite (RPO 1956)
Conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham
Anacreon Overture (RPO 1963)
The Barber of Baghdad Overture (BBCSO 1954)
Symphony No.9 in C Great C major
Conducted by Sir Adrian Boult
Andante and variations in F minor
Petrarch Sonnet No.104
Berceuse (second version)
Sonata in B minor
Impromptus, D899 E flat, G flat and A flat (all 1961)
Clifford Curzon (piano)
Fifteen Hungarian Peasant Songs
Sonata in F minor, Op.5
Rhapsody in C major, Op.11/3
Trois Etudes de concert Un sospiroGrandes Etudes de Paganini No.6 (all 1961)
Annie Fischer (piano)
Kindertotenlieder (Janet Baker/SNO 1967)
Symphony No.9 (LSO 1966)
Conducted by Jascha Horenstein
BBCL 4075-2 (2 CDs)
Sonata in F minor, Op.5
Fantasie in C, Op.17 (all 1969)
Wilhelm Kempff (piano)
Yehudi Menuhin & Benjamin Britten
Sonata for piano and violin in G
Sonata in A, D574 (all 1959)
Fantasy in C, D934 (1957)
Yehudi Menuhin (violin) & Benjamin Britten (piano)
Sonata in G, K283
Piano Sonata No.4 in C minor
Etudes-tableaux Op.39/3 in F sharp minor, Op.39/4 in B minor
Sonata No.9 Black Mass
The Seasons January, May, June, November (all 1966)
Sviatoslav Richter (piano)
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: May 2002
CD No: BBCL 4077-2 & See Below
Of Janet Bakers three Royal Festival Hall performances, the best and the best recorded is the earliest, the Gurrelieder extract. Here, with del Mars exemplary projection of Schoenbergs precipitous use of tonal harmony and a Romantic orchestral palette already fragmenting to its constituent parts, Bakers vividly characterised singing is at its freshest. Later theres a tendency for something less spontaneous, her technique more exposed, if with no lack of communication and vibrant tone. Svetlanov is an unexpected and wholly sympathetic advocate of Chaussons sub-Wagnerian, love-dominated seascape; he produces some voluptuous playing. The sound for Berlioz is curiously colourless, perhaps drained by over-zealous re-mastering; if plummy tones threaten Bakers pitch, Giulinis conducting is exquisite, every detail and inflexion given a wealth of expressiveness. Tempi are slow; the combined intensity of singer and conductor hold the attention. No printed texts!
Barbirollis Haffner is emphatic, the orchestral fabric weighty. Theres no denying Barbirollis affection in both this and the Wagner, the latter leisurely, although the distant mono sound conspires against intimacy. Beethoven 7 is an important addition to JBs discography. Despite the 1968 Royal Festival Hall recording being rather constrained and wispy, this is a vital, articulate account, once settled, with buoyant rhythms and openhearted expression. The flowing trio is well timed, the finale rather more trenchant than usual, to advantage. For dedicated Barbirollians.
The Beecham selections play to his strengths elan, relish of extravaganza, delight of colour and tunefulness, and uncomplicated pleasure of musical enjoyment. Parts of Balakirevs symphony is a bit rowdy, yet Beechams nudging of the musics folksy inclination, the robust melodies and atmospheric slow movement has undoubted appeal. Beecham overplays the brasher aspects, but winsome ideas fall gratefully on the ear. Coq dor unveils a rich vein of fantasy; copious instrumental felicities illuminate sweet and soft phrasing that is rather special. The LP Choir, singing in English presumably, is scratchily reproduced; the honours go to some sparkling orchestral work (although I wish Beecham didnt like the noise of percussion so much!).
Sir Adrian Boult was one of the finest interpreters of Schuberts Great C major and this Proms performance is a beauty. Its preceded by an alive, imperiously unfolded account of Cherubinis overture, a work that Toscanini, Klemperer and Karajan also conducted by a composer Beethoven admired under Boult the coda is deft and exhilarating and followed by Corneliuss jolly and tender curtain-raiser. Schubert 9 itself is superbly articulate; a spacious rendition thoughtfully integrated and magisterially controlled that grows in stature with each listen. With every repeat observed in the scherzo and trio, and flexibility of pulse within a grand outline, Boults is a patrician reading.
The Liszt part (from the 1961 Edinburgh Festival) of Clifford Curzons CD begins with an especially thoughtful account of the Petrarch Sonnet, one which admits showy roulades out of rumination. Curzons focus on the interior of music, its psycho-linguistics, is constantly revealing of Liszts depths not something one gets from show-pianists; the Berceuse is rather more than its title suggests in its unpredictable harmonic course, the Valse oubliee light and darting. The great B minor sonata is a complete experience, urgent but contained until the true climaxes, always searching and restless, moments of repose integrated; Curzon, despite finger-slips and awkwardness, is the master of design and felicities. (A shame about intrusive applause on the still-sounding final chord.) The Haydn and Schubert are from BBC sessions in London, the former classical, acutely detailed, emotional banks threatening to burst, which duly occurs as Haydn appointed; the three Schubert Impromptus are sparkling and soulful, each with depth of expression.
Of Annie Fischers pianism, the word vibrant comes to mind. Note-spills count for nothing when she presses the ignition switch. That she thought deeply about the music she played is self-evident; her re-creative fire seems of the moment, when poetry and declamation meld. Her Brahms sonata is dramatic, the slow movement inward and smouldering. The Bartok returns her to native soil, Hungarian plains conjured, souls of composer, artist and compatriots bared, inflections and emphases, the swing of numbers 9 and 10 innate. Liszt and Dohnanyi, fellow Nationals, are at one remove here in these salon pieces: Un sospiro is emotionally aflame, the study after Paganini dazzling, Dohnanyis febrile and gloriously expansive Rhapsody played without inhibition.
Jascha Horenstein was a truth-teller, his music-making penetrative, unvarnished and long-viewed. The Mahler 9 he conducted at the Proms in 1966 makes heavy weather of the second movement Landler; deliberately disjoined, otherwise one would think Horenstein inept or contrived. He was neither. This is not a crowd-pleasing performance, its fallible and inaccurately played too (try the errant timpani towards the end of Rondo-Burleske) but with no lack of conviction and there is much illumination. The middle movements are Klemperer-like, albeit without quite his unflinching stoicism. The outer ones, devoid of unnecessary Technicolor and false emotion, will test a listeners depth of response and appreciation. The music comes first here. Baker and Horenstein make a good partnership. A younger-voiced Baker, if not quite as innate as Ludwig, confides Mahlers heartfelt consciousness without artifice.
Kempffs London recital compels attention. He was the antithesis of the virtuoso superstar, epitomising musical grace, classicism, beautiful sound and architectural awareness. Theres fire too, which always comes from the inner reaches of the music Brahms, first movement and a lyric beauty and dynamic refinement that in the Andante reaches an exceptional level of fluid expression and range of touch. Kempffs interior playing is miraculous, his drops to pianissimo ethereal, his trills so expressive; demonstrative passages are unforced and wonderfully poised between the hands. Papillons dances and sparkles; Fantasies chivalric deeds, ardour and heroism are revealed as a spontaneous love-poem. This CD is a beguiling example of great pianism.
Of Menuhin and Brittens Aldeburgh Festival collaborations Im less certain. One senses their rapport, the give and take, yet Menuhins intonation is dubious at times and he doesnt always have Brittens ease of execution. Haydns uncharacteristically foursquare sonata emerges rather monochrome; the opening of Schuberts finds a more idiomatic response from Britten. Menuhins dri-ish sound affects the reflexes of Debussys ecstatic sense of fantasy, which Britten is more attuned to. Best of all, perhaps the finest music here, is Schuberts C major Fantasy. From two years earlier, Menuhin is freer in technique, his lines more entrancing. The sense of imagery suggested is palpable spontaneity, productive interplay and intellectual regard.
Richters recital in Aldeburghs Parish Church finds him relaxed, unforced, spontaneous and communicative. The Mozart is gentle and buoyant, the finale scampers playfully. Tchaikovskys miniatures are played simply and with affection June being an especially good month! while Rachmaninovs etudes have all the coruscating power needed without degenerating the music to showpiece artifice. Scriabins existentialism is hypnotically conveyed, effects integrated into musical argument. Prokofievs underrated Fourth Sonata, classical and concentrated, epigrammatic and soulful, finds Richter at one with this personal piece and relishing the virtuosity of the finale.