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Marlboro Music Festival 50th Anniversary Album

Release Date: 08/28/2001 
Label:  Bridge   Catalog #: 9108   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenGiuseppe VerdiFranz SchubertFelix Mendelssohn,   ... 
Performer:  Cecile LicadMieczyslaw HorszowskiEndré GranatRonald Leonard,   ... 
Conductor:  Sandor Végh
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 27 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A few miles outside Brattleboro, Vermont on Route 9, you round a curve and, if you're not careful, you'll miss the unpresuming little side road that leads to Marlboro. And when you get to the grounds of the college that's home to the world-famous music festival, there's still not much to see, especially if you're expecting the more elaborate trappings of a Tanglewood, for instance. But in the rustic structure of its concert shed and the lush, green forests and hills of the surrounding landscape lies the charm and beauty of this world-class festival, the dream of a handful of musicians--including Rudolf Serkin, Adolf Busch, Marcel and (the indomitable) Blanche Moyse--that's now celebrating its 50th anniversary. And of course, it's really the Read more musicians and their devotion and loyalty to this phenomenal enterprise that makes it so special. And what amazing musicians they are! Over the years the list of participants reads like the ultimate roster of all-stars of solo and chamber music performance, and this two-disc commemorative set from Bridge, drawing from concert recordings made by the Marlboro festival between the years 1969-97, offers a good sample of the many outstanding visitors the festival attracts each summer.

When Sony released its 40th anniversary commemorative set of Marlboro recordings 10 years ago, included was the classic 1960 performance of Schubert's Shepherd on the Rock, with soprano Benita Valente, clarinetist Harold Wright, and pianist Rudolf Serkin. Here, we get the same musicians performing the work nine years later, and besides being in clearer, cleaner, more vibrant sound, we hear an interpretation that's moved from a more careful, detail-oriented, classically-styled account to a more spontaneous-sounding, facile, sonorous reading--perhaps more romantic in approach. Both are dazzling for their virtuosity and flair and remain unrivalled; Valente seems even more confident in 1969 and Wright's leaping clarinet lines at the work's end are even more astounding than before. And this is just one of the set's highlights. The four hands of pianists Cecile Licad and Mieczyslaw Horszowski manage to make Beethoven's Three Marches Op. 45 more than just engaging concert openers: they're downright delightful, fun pieces that leave you wanting to hear more from this unlikely duo who in 1979 were aged 87 (Horszowski) and 18 (Licad) . Then comes a warm, passionate, and thoroughly romantic performance of Verdi's E minor String Quartet (also from 1969), with violinist Pina Carmirelli at the helm.

An absolutely smashing 1974 performance of Bartók's Divertimento for String Orchestra, with Sándor Végh and the Marlboro Festival Strings, leads off Disc 2. Not only is the playing first rate--crisp, crackling with energy, alternately gritty and mellifluous where called for--but the sound belies its age with its penetrating immediacy and depth. A series of more recent works--György Kurtág's Quintet for Winds Op. 2 and Hommage à Mihály András for string quartet, and String Quartet No. 1 by György Ligeti--conclude the program. These pieces, recorded in 1996 and 1997, represent Marlboro's commitment to new music and its sponsorship of visiting composers such as Kurtág, who was in residence when this recording of his music was made. Far removed in style from Beethoven, Schubert, and even Bartók, these latter works nevertheless receive impeccable performances by musicians of the caliber of cellist Siegfried Palm and oboist Rudolph Vrbsky (and not surprisingly offer the collection's best sound).

There's one flaw in this otherwise outstanding set: the performance of Mendelssohn's Op. 13 string quartet. First violinist Lisa Beth Lambert just can't seem to get the intonation right throughout the first movement--perhaps a consequence of unfriendly weather conditions on that August day in 1995, but nevertheless a bothersome distraction. It gets much better later--in fact immediately in the Beethoven-esque Adagio second movement, and from there the quartet makes beautiful music together. Interesting photos and informative liner notes complete this desirable package. Kudos to Bridge, and long may the Marlboro Festival live! [Editor's note: Instead of the actual CD cover for this release, we used one of the photos from inside the liner booklet--a picture of Harold Wright, Benita Valente, and Rudolf Serkin by Clemens Kalischer. Due to the gold-embossed lettering and near-black background, the real cover wouldn't reproduce.]
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Marches (3) for Piano 4 hands, Op. 45 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Cecile Licad (Piano), Mieczyslaw Horszowski (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: ?1803; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 07/1979 
Venue:  Live  Marlboro, Vermont 
Length: 14 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings in E minor by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Endré Granat (Violin), Ronald Leonard (Cello), Martha Katz (Viola),
Pina Carmirelli (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; Italy 
Date of Recording: 08/1969 
Venue:  Live  Marlboro, Vermont 
Length: 23 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, D 965/Op. 129 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Rudolf Serkin (Piano), Harold Wright (Clarinet), Benita Valente (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 07/1969 
Venue:  Live  Marlboro, Vermont 
Length: 11 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings no 2 in A minor, Op. 13 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Lisa-Beth Lambert (Violin), Hiroko Yajima (Violin), Sophie Shao (Cello),
Annemarie Moorcroft (Viola)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/1995 
Venue:  Live  Marlboro, Vermont 
Length: 29 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Divertimento for String Orchestra, Sz 113 by Béla Bartók
Conductor:  Sandor Végh
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; Budapest, Hungary 
Date of Recording: 07/1974 
Venue:  Live  Marlboro, Vermont 
Length: 27 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Quintet for Winds, Op. 2 by György Kurtág
Performer:  Rudolph Vrbsky (Oboe), Marc Goldberg (Bassoon), Sarah Dussing (French Horn),
Tanya Dusevic (Flute), Michael Rusinek (Clarinet)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; Hungary 
Date of Recording: 08/1997 
Venue:  Live  Marlboro, Vermont 
Length: 9 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings, Op. 13 "Hommage ŕ Mihály András" by György Kurtág
Performer:  Robert Waters (Violin), Siegfried Palm (Cello), Jessica Troy (Viola),
Catherine Szepes (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977-1978 
Date of Recording: 08/1997 
Venue:  Live  Marlboro, Vermont 
Length: 10 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings no 1 "Métamorphoses nocturnes" by György Ligeti
Performer:  Kirsten Johnson (Viola), Soovin Kim (Violin), Siegfried Palm (Cello),
Catherine Cho (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953-1954; Hungary 
Date of Recording: 08/1996 
Venue:  Live  Marlboro, Vermont 
Length: 21 Minutes 56 Secs. 

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