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The Art Of Oscar Fried, Vol. 4 / Oscar Fried, Berlin State Opera Orchestra & Choir


Release Date: 11/10/2009 
Label:  Music & Arts Programs Of America Catalog #: 1231   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Anton BrucknerRichard WagnerCarl Maria von WeberPietro Mascagni
Conductor:  Oscar Fried
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin State Opera OrchestraBerlin State Opera Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The last time I reviewed an Oskar Fried disc on this site it was of Arbiter’s rather fascinating trawl through some rare material. Some of this was recorded on film and off-air acetates, which made its appearance that much more welcome for the avid collector of Fried recordings. But Arbiter has hardly been flying solo kites for the conductor. Music & Arts has been slowly but surely, and securely, establishing a strong catalogue of such things; it may surprise some to know that this latest instalment is Read more volume four.
 
Its appearance is somewhat lopsided – but that’s very much a function of the remaining items in the Fried discographic locker, not any inherent programmatic eccentricity on Music & Arts’s part. Because what we have here is an inscription of a towering piece recorded in late acoustic days – Bruckner’s mighty Seventh Symphony – and a collection of operatic choruses in which Fried directed the Choir and Orchestra of the Staatsoper Berlin.
 
The fine discography presented in the extensive booklet irons out any question marks as to provenance and previous LP and CD incarnations. I should note that the perceived market for the disc, in terms of booklet layout and typography, is German-speaking. The German text comes first, the English language translation second. I only mention this because in my experience it’s unusual for an English-speaking company – though they do hedge their bets by having the booklet cover in English only.
 
Those who collect Fried’s recordings are, in any case, an international bunch. In fact there have been at least two previous transfers of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony and one was Tokyo’s Wing label [WCD 61]. The other was BSVD-105. I’ve heard neither transfer.
 
This was the first recording of the symphony to have been made, in Berlin in c.1924. Clearly the usual limitations and compromises in acoustic recordings of the symphonic repertoire are present here in a most dramatic way. Such a powerful and vast symphony is hardly going to sit comfortably in the acoustic funnel and the orchestral shrinkages and bass boosting offer a necessarily compromised view. Still, Fried was something of a dab hand at these undertakings, as his contemporaneous recording of Mahler’s Second Symphony [Pearl CDS 9929: Naxos 8.110152/3; Membran 222145-444] clearly indicates.
 
The performance preserves a reading of fluidity and relatively speedy intent, one saturated with a degree of metrical coming and going – not least in the Scherzo – which shows how elastic was Fried’s conception. The principal flute comes through unexpectedly well – it would be interesting to know the orchestral seating plan for this recording – though the lower brass tends to congeal in the balance. The violin tone is rather thin – again, one wonders how many firsts and seconds were crammed into the studio. So there is something of a sonic imbalance in the recording, but once one absorbs this, the performance exerts a very particular power of its own. The slow movement is moving, and free of the cymbal crash, whilst the scherzo is a study in contrasts. The finale is direct and avid. One senses throughout a vital and controlling hand at work – unsparing, unsentimental, powerfully symphonic in conception (of course) but unwilling to make one special compromise to the 78 process, which is that I was not aware of any side end rallentandi. In many discs of the period one notices the slowing down for a side change; it’s a feature of the system, though often taken to be executant indulgence or eccentricity. Not here. What I did notice though was the side changes themselves. This must have been a tricky matter to deal with but – for example – it’s obvious that side changes occur at 9:24 and 13:46 in the first movement.
 
The choruses are something of a mixed bag repertoire-wise. They were recorded in 1927 electrically so things are much better when it comes to the recording frequencies. They show how firmly Fried directed his forces, both choral and orchestral, and how responsive those forces were to him. The Tannhäuser recording quality is a touch torrid to my ears but the Weber is sonorously done. Overall they make, collectively, a big impression.
 
Fried was a discographic pioneer. His legacy is being well curated by this series of discs. Finally, some rhetorical questions. Will M&A be turning to Mahler 2 or Beethoven’s Ninth next – or do they believe there’s been market saturation for these already? Or perhaps they can turn their attention instead to Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique? Even better, can we hope for a first ever CD appearance for the Symphonie fantastique?
 
-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 7 in E major, WAB 107 by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Oscar Fried
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin State Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881-1883; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1924 
2.
Der fliegende Holländer: Summ und brumm, du gutes Rädchen by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Oscar Fried
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin State Opera Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841/1852; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1927 
3.
Lohengrin: Treulich geführt "Bridal Chorus" by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Oscar Fried
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin State Opera Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1927 
4.
Tannhäuser: Freudig begrüssen "Entrance of the Guests" by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Oscar Fried
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin State Opera Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845/1861; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1927 
5.
Tannhäuser: Beglückt darf nun dich "Pilgrims' Chorus" by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Oscar Fried
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin State Opera Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845/1861; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1927 
6.
Der Freischütz, J 277: Was gleicht wohl "Hunters' Chorus" by Carl Maria von Weber
Conductor:  Oscar Fried
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin State Opera Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817-1821; Dresden, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1927 
7.
Cavalleria Rusticana: Regina coeli laetare by Pietro Mascagni
Conductor:  Oscar Fried
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin State Opera Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1890; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1927 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 7 in E major, WAB 107 (modified 1885 version, ed. A. Gutmann): I. Allegro molto vivace
Symphony No. 7 in E major, WAB 107 (modified 1885 version, ed. A. Gutmann): II. Adagio: sehr feierlich und sehr langsam
Symphony No. 7 in E major, WAB 107 (modified 1885 version, ed. A. Gutmann): III. Scherzo: sehr schnell
Symphony No. 7 in E major, WAB 107 (modified 1885 version, ed. A. Gutmann): IV. Finale: Bewegt, doch nicht schnell
Der fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman): Act II: Summ und brumm, du gutes Radchen
Lohengrin: Act III: Treulich gefuhrt, ziehet dahin (Wedding March)
Tannhauser: Freudig begrussen wir die edle Halle
Tannhauser: Begluckt darf nun dich, o Heimat, ich schauen
Der Freischutz, J. 277: Act III: Was gleicht wohl auf Erden
Cavalleria rusticana: Regina coeli

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