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Fritz Busch - Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms, Dvorak

Chopin / Beethoven / Danish Radio So / Busch
Release Date: 05/11/2010 
Label:  Guild   Catalog #: 2354  
Composer:  Antonín DvorákJohannes BrahmsFrédéric ChopinLudwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Marian AndersonClaudio Arrau
Conductor:  Fritz Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish Radio Symphony OrchestraNew York Philharmonic
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A well compiled programme devoted to a conductor of high moral and musical qualities.

None of these performances is making a ‘first release’ appearance but all are welcome nonetheless in Guild’s well upholstered transfers, and with typically useful notes. There is one intact concert here – the Human Rights Day concert given in November 1950 at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Then, from slightly earlier in the year, there is the only surviving document of Busch’s work at the Edinburgh International Festival, in the shape of Dvo?ák’s Carnival Overture. This was something of a favourite of his, and he had in fact recorded it much earlier in 1933. The performance has been reissued several times by
Read more Danacord. The tempo is almost identical and whilst he was never quite as fast as Reiner, say, in this spirited work, he always brought to it a fiery intensity. The opening chords tend to splinter in the 1950 off-air recording. But we can still admire the vigorous and rhythmically persuasive way Busch drives through the music, vesting it with carnal life and lissom verdancy. It makes one wonder, afresh, at Busch’s otherwise scanty interest in the composer’s music. The Edinburgh performance once appeared on JS Editions 07159.

Talking of which, Marian Anderson’s performance of the Alto Rhapsody was issued on JS Editions 07209, on Discocorp, the NYPS Society (on LP) in 1987, and privately from Indiana University. There are several inscriptions of her noble way with this work, and there is indeed Busch’s own with Ferrier and the Danish Radio Orchestra from 1949 [DACOCD301]. Well recorded at the Met with Anderson’s voice characterfully forward, this yields to none of these competing versions in directness and gravity. Arrau’s Chopin Concerto has also done the rounds over the years: the Indiana private release noted above, a Bruno Walter Society LP, Urania 22.145 and it’s also to be found housed in an unwieldy 20 CD box from Habana/JBM – as well as more congenially on a single CD on Music & Arts 1158. It’s a strong, sinewy reading, with an unshrinking violet approach all round. The slow movement doesn’t aim at delicate refinement and there’s some skittish, and authoritative playing in the finale.

Finally we have Beethoven’s Fifth; see also its appearance on the Indiana release, a Discocorp LP, and Urania 22.159. This receives a fleet, rugged and essentially Toscanini-like performance which reveals Busch’s hallmarks as a Beethovenian of distinction – as the other few surviving examples of his work amply demonstrate. One thing will perplex listeners however. There’s a swingeing cut in the finale. It doesn’t sound like tape loss because the rest of the concert is in decent sound and suffers no such problem. Might it have been for broadcast reasons – to keep the programme within a certain allotted time span? That seems more likely but I’m still somewhat surprised at Busch proving so amenable.

In short then this is a well compiled programme devoted to a conductor of high moral and musical qualities.

-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Carnival Overture, Op. 92 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Fritz Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891; USA 
Date of Recording: 8/26/1950 
Venue:  Usher Hall, Edinburgh International Fest 
2.
Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Marian Anderson (Alto)
Conductor:  Fritz Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869; Austria 
Date of Recording: 12/10/1950 
Venue:  Metropolitan Opera House, New York 
3.
Concerto for Piano no 2 in F minor, B 43/Op. 21 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Claudio Arrau (Piano)
Conductor:  Fritz Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829-1830; Poland 
Date of Recording: 12/10/1950 
Venue:  Metropolitan Opera House, New York 
4.
Symphony no 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Fritz Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807-1808; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 12/10/1950 
Venue:  Metropolitan Opera House, New York 

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