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Hans Schmidt-isserstedt - The Capitol Recordings

Schmidt-isserstedt / Yankov / Nwdr
Release Date: 12/14/2010 
Label:  Tahra   Catalog #: 694   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Franz Joseph HaydnFranz SchubertJohannes BrahmsRichard Wagner,   ... 
Performer:  Ventislaw Yankov
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 3 Hours 34 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



HANS SCHMIDT-ISSERSTEDT: The Capitol Recordings Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, cond; NWDR SO; Ventislaw Yankov (pn) TAHRA 694–96 (3 CDs: 224:13)


BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3. BRAHMS Symphony No. 2. HAYDN Symphony No. 94, “Surprise.” MOZART Eine kleine Nachtmusik. Read more SCHUBERT Symphony No. 5. Rosamunde: Entr’actes: No. 1 in b; No. 3 in B?. Ballet Music: No. 1 in b; No. 2 in G. WAGNER Das Rheingold: Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla. Die Walküre: Ride of the Valkyries; Magic Fire Music. Siegfried: Forest Murmurs. Götterdämmerung: Siegfried’s Rhine Journey; Funeral March


Tahra continues its valuable ongoing Schmidt-Isserstedt retrospective with these Capitol sessions from 1955. Though his career was a highly distinguished one by any standards, Schmidt-Isserstedt never really attained the level of recognition of some of his contemporaries. Not, I think, through any deficit in ability or the quality of his work; he was always very much the musician’s musician, and his qualities of fastidious control, finely focused drawing of musical line, rhythmic precision, elegant phrasing, and classical sense of proportion were constant factors throughout his career, both live and in the recording studio.


The set gets off to a fine start in Eine kleine Nachtmusik, which is a joy—lithe, pointed, with real subtlety that does not preclude a full-toned richness. The Andante is taken at a real two-in-the-bar, and the finale has a delectable lightness. Altogether one of the finest accounts from the 1950s, one to set beside Karajan/Philharmonia (EMI, 1953), Kempe/Philharmonia (EMI, 1955), Reiner/Chicago SO (RCA, 1954), and Walter/Columbia SO (1954). The Haydn is not quite on this level. The chromatic string lines of the slow introduction are subtly pointed, the Vivace assai airy and buoyant, and the “Surprise” Andante refined, but the Minuet is too slow for Allegro molto (for the other extreme, hear Toscanini’s turbo-charged bulldozer!), and he perpetuates a nonsensical bassoon misprint (F? for G) in bar 7. The finale is again a little sedate for Allegro molto (compare the effervescent Monteux/LSO, on Decca, here); although the poise of articulation is some compensation, overall the reading lacks drama.


He’s back in top form in Schubert’s Fifth, however, with outer movements of finesse, finely drawn lines, and superb rhythmic solidity. The slow movement has real emotional depth, with memorable fullness of phrasing at a subtly flexible pulse, and finely shaded chromatic coloring. Again, a reading to compare with the best of its time, including Beecham/RPO (EMI, 1958–59), Jochum/Bavarian Radio SO (DG, 1957), and Reiner/Chicago SO (RCA, 1960). The Rosamunde excerpts (misidentified in the documentation, corrected above) are dramatic and refined, with shapely phrasing and a keenly drawn rhythmic profile—tight, animated accompanimental textures were always a Schmidt-Isserstedt trademark.


In Beethoven’s Third Concerto the young Bulgarian soloist is neat and proficient, though not very individual; given the trenchant assertiveness of Schmidt-Isserstedt’s accompaniment, one regrets he didn’t have a stronger soloist on this occasion (as he did a few years later, in his classic Decca cycle with Backhaus). There’s a bad editing mishap at the end of the first movement, where Tahra has carelessly tacked on the last few minutes again from the middle of the cadenza—this may be fixed by the time you read this, but if you buy, be sure to check your copy.


The Brahms is a lean, classical conception, with a tight, refined tonal blend. There was always a self-contained quality to Schmidt-Isserstedt’s music-making—no outsize gestures, bloat, or indulgence. But there’s a supple ebb and flow within his penchant for a strict basic tempo (though he takes us by surprise at the end of the finale, with a sudden, volatile upping of the tempo in the coda, more blatant than the surreptitious accelerando commonly heard here). String style is richly expressive, especially the first violins (whose sweet lyricism is a consistent source of pleasure throughout this set), but there’s also razor-sharp point where needed (e.g., the Presto episodes of the Allegretto grazioso), and in the first-movement development he does not shy away from the requisite rough pungency in the wind blend. The consistency of his approach over the years is evident in comparison with a live version with same orchestra in 1967 (German EMI), very similar indeed in tempos and interpretive touches. Comparing with a number of other studio versions from the 1950s, the closest (perhaps surprisingly) was Böhm/BPO (DG, 1956)—strikingly similar in its finely drawn classicism, if a touch more severe. The booklet notes compare Schmidt-Isserstedt’s Brahms to Weingartner’s, but the latter’s 1940 Columbia recording with the LSO (Centaur or EMI) bears little resemblance—very fast, straightlaced, and much less nuanced.


The Wagner excerpts are lean, rhythmically pointed, vital, and transparently balanced. Phrasing is shapely, with a memorable “speaking” quality, from the woodbird’s effusions in Forest Murmurs to the massive declamations of Siegfried’s Funeral March.


Tahra’s transfers capture well the excitingly bright, vivid sound of the original Capitols—plenty of presence, if a little bass-light, and with the reassuring preservation of a healthy dose of the original tape hiss. Highly recommended, provided they fix that careless error in the Beethoven.


FANFARE: Boyd Pomeroy
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 94 in G major, H 1 no 94 "Surprise" by Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; London, England 
Length: 22 Minutes 39 Secs. 
2.
Symphony no 5 in B flat major, D 485 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 25 Minutes 3 Secs. 
3.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Austria 
Length: 37 Minutes 38 Secs. 
4.
Rosamunde, D 797/Op. 26: no 2, Entr'acte no 1 in B minor by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 7 Minutes 49 Secs. 
5.
Rosamunde, D 797/Op. 26: no 3, Ballet music no 1 in B minor by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 7 Minutes 3 Secs. 
6.
Rosamunde, D 797/Op. 26: no 11, Ballet music no 2 in G major by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 6 Minutes 7 Secs. 
7.
Rosamunde, D 797/Op. 26: no 4, Entr'acte no 2 in D major by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 6 Minutes 28 Secs. 
8.
Das Rheingold: Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1854; Germany 
Length: 6 Minutes 38 Secs. 
9.
Die Walküre: Ride of the Valkyries by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
Length: 5 Minutes 36 Secs. 
10.
Die Walküre: Leb' wohl..."Farewell and Magic Fire music" by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
Length: 5 Minutes 21 Secs. 
11.
Siegfried: Forest Murmurs [Instrumental] by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871; Germany 
Length: 8 Minutes 21 Secs. 
12.
Götterdämmerung: Dawn and Siegfried's Rhine Journey by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Germany 
Length: 10 Minutes 19 Secs. 
13.
Götterdämmerung: Siegfried's Funeral Music by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Germany 
Length: 7 Minutes 16 Secs. 
14.
Serenade no 13 in G major, K 525 "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 16 Minutes 33 Secs. 
15.
Concerto for Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 37 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Ventislaw Yankov (Piano)
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 39 Minutes 4 Secs. 

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