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Adolf Busch Plays Bach And Beethoven In Wartime New York

Release Date: 05/30/2006 
Label:  Music & Arts Programs Of America Catalog #: 1183   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian BachLudwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Lukas FossAdolf Busch
Conductor:  Adolf BuschFritz BuschAlfred Wallenstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Busch Chamber PlayersPhilharmonic Symphony OrchestraNew York WOR Radio Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The performance featured here of the Beethoven Violin Concerto stamps this disc as a major historical release. As some may be aware, the Busch brothers recorded the work in the studio the day after the live Sunday afternoon concerto contained here was broadcast on February 8, 1942. That studio effort was once available on a Melodram CD, but it cannot compare either sonically or musically with this offering. On a number of levels, it shines as an account of special distinction. For one thing, conductor Busch provides as fine an account of the orchestral portions of the score as I have ever heard, very similar to what Bruno Walter gave Szigeti in their second recording of the work. But Fritz outdoes Walter in the marginally greater rhythmic Read more control he exerts and the explosive power he generates in those dissonant eruptions that make their first of several appearances in the opening tutti. As Tully Potter points out in his informative annotations, Adolf Busch was one of the foremost 20th-century proponents of the Concerto. Throughout his career he collaborated with virtually every major conductor of the time (including such diverse figures as Mengelberg and Toscanini), and during the Beethoven centenary of 1927 he gave 50 performances of the work.

It would, I think, be foolish to assume that what we have here is completely representative of what the violinist achieved earlier in his career, at least on technical grounds. His entrance in the first movement in this performance is a bit precarious, as are some other passages. But his tone is often attractive and his grasp of structure and line exemplary. Even more to the point, he doesn’t drool over the music’s soaring lyricism, projecting its rich melodic lines with a simplicity and directness that heightens their expressivity while providing total integration into the larger design. Yet, many passages of barely perceptible rubato help to underscore the ethos of the moment. And note how Busch, unlike many of today’s soloist’s, makes the most of those two quick pizzicatos that so pointedly complement the prevailing good humor of the work’s finale. In that finale, conductor Busch gives the ritornello a power and shape rarely encountered. All three cadenzas (the last two appropriately brief) are by the soloist. Aside from congestion in the loudest orchestral passages, the sound is quite good, especially in its almost total freedom from surface scratch and hiss.

The other items featured on this release, although not lacking virtues, are far less interesting. The Bach offers some highly expressive and musical playing. But judged in the light of what is now known of 18th-century performance practice, it seems rather labored and old-fashioned. And for all of the violinist’s fine work in the two Beethoven Romances, they still remain minor pieces among the composer’s output. However, for anyone who wants to discover why Adolf Busch was once considered one of the last century’s great violinists, this is a resurrection not to be ignored.

FANFARE: Mortimer H. Frank
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin no 1 in A minor, BWV 1041 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Lukas Foss (Harpsichord), Adolf Busch (Violin)
Conductor:  Adolf Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Busch Chamber Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1717-1723; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/26/1943 
Venue:  Live  Town Hall, New York City 
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 61 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Adolf Busch (Violin)
Conductor:  Fritz Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/08/1942 
Venue:  Live  Carnegie Hall, New York City 
Romance for Violin and Orchestra no 1 in G major, Op. 40 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Adolf Busch (Violin)
Conductor:  Alfred Wallenstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York WOR Radio Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/21/1942 
Venue:  Live  New York City 
Romance for Violin and Orchestra no 2 in F major, Op. 50 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Adolf Busch (Violin)
Conductor:  Alfred Wallenstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York WOR Radio Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: ?1798; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/21/1942 
Venue:  Live  New York City 

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