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Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel, Don Juan; Mozart / Fritz Busch

Busch / Strauss / Mozart / Bbc So / Lpo
Release Date: 02/09/2010 
Label:  Guild   Catalog #: 2356  
Composer:  Richard StraussWolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Fritz Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony OrchestraLondon Philharmonic OrchestraGlyndebourne Festival Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Historic recording fans will find much to savour in this amply stocked disc.

Although he had a long association with the Glyndebourne Festival, Fritz Busch made relatively few recordings in England, and those in a very short span of just under three years. Among these efforts though are the first ever complete recordings of Cosi fan tutte and Le nozze di Figaro, recordings that are regarded as benchmarks to this day.
This outstanding compilation from Guild, prepared with their customary meticulous care for sound quality and presentation gives us some Mozart samples along with two works from Strauss. Despite Busch’s tenure at Dresden, where many of Strauss’s works received their
Read more first performances, recordings of his music by Busch are rare. That these recordings were made with a mere five hours of rehearsal time and over the span of only two or three sessions gives us an indication as to just what a refined and precise conductor he was, and how efficiently he was able to prepare his forces.
There is little to disappoint here in the Strauss works, and even the age of the recordings is quickly forgotten given the outstanding remasterings by Peter Reynolds and Dr. Jürgen Schaarwächter. The performances are taut and spirited although there is a bit of blurriness from the strings in the more complex passages of Till Eulenspiegel. Don Juan comes off with all the youthful assurance that the young Strauss put into the score.
Less fulfilling is the Mozart symphony which suffers from barbiturated tempi and a certain lack of elegance of phrasing. Too many downbeats are thumped and there is little grace in the dance movements. Far too equal weight is given to each beat and we lose the sense of line that is so essential in making Mozart’s music sing. The final movement comes off with much more panache. It seems that Herr Busch ate his Wheaties during a session break and got the lead out.
The three overtures are given spirited performances with sprightly tempi and a lot of forward motion. The performances are worthy of comparison with some of the more recent period instrument efforts for their drive and energy.
Guild as always pays careful attention to production values and this release is no exception. Sound quality is superb and the engineers manage to bring out tremendous warmth from these old masters. Occasionally the tone gets a bit boxy, but these moments are rare and fleeting. Documentation is interesting with a number of photographs from the conductor’s diary and a reproduction of a letter between Busch and his wife Grete.
Historic recording fans will find much to savour in this amply stocked disc.
-- Kevin Sutton, MusicWeb International


MOZART Symphony No. 36, “Linz”. 1 Overtures: 3 The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte. R. STRAUSS Don Juan. 2 Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks 1 Fritz Busch, cond; BBC SO, 1 London PO, 2 Glyndebourne Festival O 3 GUILD 2356 (mono, 68:49)

Fritz Busch was a comparatively unsung conductor of taste and temperament who never gained the representation on disc that his work deserved. With the exception of the Don Juan and the three overtures (each of the latter drawn from Busch’s complete recordings of the operas), none, so far as I know, has gained an adequate representation on CD. All of the recordings were made between 1934 and 1936. Note that the Figaro Overture is from 1934, not, as Guild credits it, 1935. The two Strauss works are especially impressive in their taut organization and freedom from affectation. Indeed, the account of Don Juan is the fleetest I’ve ever heard. The Linz Symphony, if boasting greater intensity and urgency than in Beecham’s recording of the same period, is not quite as assertive in its first movement as it was in Busch’s later account, recorded c. 1950 in Denmark by HMV. Still, it retains a tension that many conductors fail to suggest in this score.

The transfers of the two Strauss poems are exceptionally fine. For one thing, they are virtually free of surface noise without any recognizable imposition of high-frequency filtering. The sound, to be sure, is a bit boxy in its dry studio ambiance, but it has ample presence and benefits from absolutely seamless side joins. My guess is Guild drew upon Victor pressings, which, in the 1930s, were often quieter than their HMV counterparts. The Mozart is almost as good sonically, a bit noisier in spots and occasionally gritty; it also has one exposed side-join in the first movement. But this new release marks a major sonic improvement over an earlier Guild disc devoted to Busch’s later Danish recordings of Haydn and Mozart (see Fanfare 32:3), which are excessively filtered on top and often sharp in pitch. For this new release, Guild cites both the Victor and HMV sources, but does not indicate where each source was used or if both were drawn upon for each of the two Strauss items and the Mozart symphony. Only HMV discs are cited for the three overtures. In any event, this is a most welcome resurrection of performances that still shine as prizes of the 78 era.

FANFARE: Mortimer H. Frank
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Works on This Recording

Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Fritz Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894-1895; Germany 
Symphony no 36 in C major, K 425 "Linz" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Fritz Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1783; Linz, Austria 
Don Juan, Op. 20 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Fritz Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Germany 
Don Giovanni, K 527: Overture by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Fritz Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Glyndebourne Festival Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Prague, Czech Republ 
Le nozze di Figaro, K 492: Overture by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Fritz Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Glyndebourne Festival Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria 
Cosě fan tutte, K 588: Overture by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Fritz Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Glyndebourne Festival Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1790; Vienna, Austria 

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