Symphony No.6 in F, Op.68
Troubadours Serenade; Scherzo From the Middle Ages (Symphonic Suite, Op.79)
Turin Orchestra of the Italian Broadcasting Authority
Santa Cecilia Academy Orchestra Rome *
Victor de Sabata
Recorded in 1933 and 1947 *
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: October 2002
CD No: NAXOS 8.110859
Naxos is doing a great job with so-called ’Historical Recordings’ – hopefully for a fiver more general collectors are taking the plunge. It’s a strange tag really – a recording is a recording whether made yesterday or seventy years ago. Not once did I feel deprived of musical information – a tribute here to Mark Obert-Thorn’s transfers and to Victor de Sabata’s scrupulous balances expertly captured by the engineers of the day.
Victor de Sabata (1892-1967), Italian-born, was initially hailed for his instrumental and composing prowess. Such talent is largely confined to history – he is remembered today as a great conductor. This CD handsomely restores his recordings for Italian Parlophon (all from 1933) and his 1947 ’Pastoral’.
Fireworks is a stunning performance of precision, incision and fantasy. Mossolov’s Iron Foundry is a musical junkyard as far as ideas are concerned, yet in a couple of minutes it perfectly encapsulates the industrial age. The ’Troubadour’s Serenade’ from Glazunov’s Suite is quite wonderful in its evocation – the singing strings really catch the air. Interesting that this movement sounds like Respighi! The ’Scherzo’ is more obviously Russian and given a scintillating rendition.
It’s great to have something of de Sabata’s own conducted by the composer. Juventus (Youth, 1919) has nothing to do with the football team but lives up to its name in terms of confidence and aspiration. Those that love Strauss and Korngold will respond favourably to de Sabata’s invention; he clearly knew his way around the orchestra, as his virtuoso scoring shows; there’s some lovely sun-drenched melodies here that seem to want to accompany a film. [On Hyperion CDA67209, Aldo Ceccato – de Sabata’s son-in-law – conducts the LPO in de Sabata’s La notte di Platon, Gethsemani and Juventus.]
The ’Pastoral’ while sounding perfectly acceptable is not quite as vivid as the 14-year-earlier ones. The mellow reproduction is actually a perfect corollary to de Sabata’s relaxed and affectionate account, one in which rhythmic alertness is as just as important but not didactically so. The first movement (no repeat) is a little unsettled. It’s the ’Scene by the Brook’ that’s really special – given with Furtwänglerian space and with an ecstatic quality all its own; the music burgeons and seems suspended. The notes don’t mention this – I believe Carlo Maria Giulini is among the viola section; de Sabata’s lofty approach must have really appealed to him. De Sabata really spins the Peasants along in the next movement and there’s some nimble woodwind and horn playing. The ’Storm’, forgive the pun, goes like the wind and the following ’Thanksgiving’ is radiant – one senses the rainbow!
In short, this is a very desirable CD.