Notes and Editorial Reviews
Wonderful music-making, and maybe the only Carnival Overture you need: thrilling without the rigid, hard-driven downside that has afflicted recordings of this joyous showpiece since the LP era. Harty (1879–1941) could draw a supercharged response from an orchestra in the studio, and members of the Manchester orchestra were up for the fight in 1927. Ironically, this ancient recording presents Dvo?ák as our vigorous contemporary. Harty’s 1927 “New World” stands up, too, like the early Stokowski Victor account, and Sir John Barbirolli’s fresh LP version with this same orchestra, made for Pye in the 1950s. With Harty on 78s, the battle with the (then not so old) war-horse is all over in about 33 minutes. Brass and wind playing is
hell-for-leather, and there can have been few string sections as light on their feet back then as this virtuosic Hallé band. The world was a different place in those inter-war years, and it was okay to lavish this much-shared generosity of spirit on a mere symphony. They may have been racing to beat the cutting-head to the run-out grooves, but the warmth and adrenalin rush survive the intervening decades and the digitization. Nothing amateurish here: Harty and the Hallé were world contenders. I’d rather hear this than any later recording, and Harty’s dash for the line makes more pregnant sense of Dvo?ák’s inspired, quiet close than most of the recent, overblown runs down these rutted musical slopes.
The Brahms dances offer extravagant rubato, blistering playing, and amazingly dynamic sound for 1929. The “New World” from 1927 suffers most from the noise reduction (almost complete, courtesy of Simon Haram) and some of the quieter sections sound digitally peculiar, notably the opening, and parts of the Largo. The rest is fine, and has considerable impact and warmth as sound, but if you like to hear every sonic nuance of the deep fat fryer as you eat, this is not the disc for you. Leslie Heward’s contribution is from the year of Harty’s death, and in context the string Nocturne makes for a sad, touching, rather Elgarian tribute, with the world back at war and life changed utterly again. Two years later, the modest but highly talented Heward would pass, too, before being able to lead the Hallé into post-war pastures new.
I loved this CD, and suggest you order it, and bring a forgotten, more clearly human world to vibrant life in your living room. Measure is short (why, with no copyright issues?) but musically, the disc is sensational. More please, Hallé. Much more.
Paul Ingram, FANFARE
Works on This Recording
Carnival Overture, Op. 92 by Antonín Dvorák
Sir Hamilton Harty
Written: 1891; USA
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