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Westminster - Tchaikovsky, Dvorak / Rodzinski, Royal Po


Release Date: 06/11/2002 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 471272   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Peter Ilyich TchaikovskyAntonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Artur Rodzinski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 2 Hours 11 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A magnificent testimonial to one of the greatest, if under-appreciated, mid-century conductors.

In Our Two Lives, Rodzinski’s wife Halina rails bitterly against Reiner for his refusal to lend some Chicago Symphony string players to the Lyric Opera Orchestra to beef up the sound for what turned out to be Rodzinski’s valedictory performances of Tristan. But whatever Reiner’s and Rodzinski’s personal differences (and Artur seems to have responded to the Tristan tussle with more equanimity than his wife), there was certainly a similarity in their aesthetics. Both were intensely serious conductors, without a trace of Beecham’s lightness of spirit—but in contrast, say, to the serious Furtwängler, they avoided anguished
Read more self-expression, even toward the ends of their lives when the physical strain under which they were working would surely have justified it. Both were perfectionists (indeed, that’s the first word Halina uses to describe her impressions of the young Artur, even before she’d met him), especially with regard to rhythm, articulation, and balance—but in contrast, say, to Szell, they were never coldly disengaged from the music. Both sought out a darkish sonority with a strong tilt toward the bass (no Toscaninian incandescence here)—but in contrast to Stokowski, their colors were never ostentatious and their legato never smudged the edges of the individual notes. The high points of their repertoires overlapped, too, and in my experience, neither ever made a bad recording. For a variety of reasons, however, Reiner’s discs have had a stronger grip on our attention—so for younger collectors especially, the force of Rodzinski’s recordings may come as something of a surprise.

Pride of place goes to the Tchaikovsky Fifth and Sixth. Even measured by Rodzinski’s own high standards, these muscular and tough-minded interpretations, delivered without a shred of vulgarity, are exceptional. They will not appeal to everyone: Those seeking lush lyricism in the second movement of the Fifth or an airy lilt in the following waltz or virtuosic brilliance in the Sixth’s third-movement march may well find these performances too stony. But the stone is finely chiseled, in a way that offers unerring detail without ever cluttering the overall shape of the music (listen, for instance, to the way he brings out the intricate textures of the Sixth’s first-movement development). And those details—the snap of the rhythms in the first movement of the Fifth, the bitter edge to the melodic lines in the second, the hellish trombone interjections in the first movement of the Sixth, the stab of the cello sforzando eight measures before the end of the Sixth—all contribute to Rodzinski’s unyielding vision. You may not enjoy the bitter turbulence of the music, but you won’t easily forget it.

The Dvo?ák is similarly hard-bitten. No earthy naïveté, no folksy good humor here—not even any sweet warmth in the second movement, which, with its clear-eyed sense of loss, offers retrospection without the balm of nostalgia. The Kodály is marginally less relentless; still, these boldly conceived performances—with their tart winds and their superbly focused strings (even in the lushest passages)—tend to grip rather than charm. Not the ideal place to seek out the humor of Háry János, perhaps, but few other performances have such vivid astringency. And even the Ippolitov-Ivanov is rescued from the slackness that its lollipop reputation can easily encourage.

The engineering was the best available in late mono era, and it holds up extremely well—largely, one suspects, because Rodzinski was so finicky about the accuracy of his recorded sound. All in all, a magnificent testimonial to one of the greatest, if underappreciated, mid-century conductors.

-- Peter J. Rabinowitz, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 5 in E minor, Op. 64 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Artur Rodzinski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Russia 
Date of Recording: 10/1954 
Venue:  Walthamstow Hall, London, England 
Length: 44 Minutes 45 Secs. 
2.
Symphony no 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Artur Rodzinski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Russia 
Date of Recording: 10/1954 
Venue:  Walthamstow Hall, London, England 
Length: 45 Minutes 25 Secs. 
3.
Symphony no 9 in E minor, Op. 95/B 178 "From the New World" by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Artur Rodzinski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/1954 
Venue:  Walthamstow Hall, London, England 
Length: 40 Minutes 27 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Symphony No.5 in E minor, Op.64: 1. Andante - Allegro con anima
Symphony No.5 in E minor, Op.64: 2. Andante cantabile, con alcuna licenza - Moderato con anima
Symphony No.5 in E minor, Op.64: 3. Valse (Allegro moderato)
Symphony No.5 in E minor, Op.64: 4. Finale (Andante maestoso - Allegro vivace)
Symphony No.6 in B minor, Op.74 -"Pathétique": 1. Adagio - Allegro non troppo
Symphony No.6 in B minor, Op.74 -"Pathétique": 2. Allegro con grazia
Symphony No.6 in B minor, Op.74 -"Pathétique": 3. Allegro molto vivace
Symphony No.6 in B minor, Op.74 -"Pathétique": 4. Finale (Adagio lamentoso - Andante)
Symphony No.9 in E minor, Op.95 "From the New World": 1. Adagio - Allegro molto
Symphony No.9 in E minor, Op.95 "From the New World": 2. Largo
Symphony No.9 in E minor, Op.95 "From the New World": 3. Scherzo (Molto vivace)
Symphony No.9 in E minor, Op.95 "From the New World": 4. Allegro con fuoco

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