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Marlboro Music Festival: Beethoven, Dvorak, Janacek / Serkin, Schneider

Release Date: 07/18/2000 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 89200   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenAntonín DvorákLeos Janácek
Performer:  Rudolf SerkinDavid EvittsSanford SylvanNan Nall,   ... 
Conductor:  Alexander SchneiderPeter Serkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony OrchestraMarlboro Festival Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 55 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A sampling emblematic of Marlboro's distinction, including a 1974 account of Beethoven's 4th Concerto, given as memorial for Pablo Casals.

The previously unreleased performances (all save that of the Dvo?ák occurring in concert) on this CD, entitled Marlboro Music Festival: 50th Anniversary Commemorative, were recorded at Marlboro over a 23-year span. The earliest of the batch features Rudolf Serkin's fifth officially issued recording of Beethoven's Fourth Concerto, a 1974 account given as memorial for Pablo Casals. It is, in its two initial movements, the slowest of the of the five—an exceptionally ruminative reading that exceeds in breadth the uncommonly broad version the pianist recorded in 1983 for Telarc
Read more with Seiji Ozawa, the last of his studio efforts. It is clearly a special account, influenced, most likely, by the occasion it is commemorating. As a result it misses some of the work's airy lightness and lyric flow. Yet it has moments that many may find affecting. At times it seems as if Serkin is pressing forward, only to be throttled by the brooding orchestral direction of Alexander Schneider. Not even the ever-expansive Claudio Arrau recorded so slow a reading. In the finale, however, things come alive. In short, this is not a performance for the general collector. But it is a significant document, and may have appeal for those interested in Serkin or for anyone who collects a variety of approaches to the music.

This 1981 Choral Fantasy is another matter. Serkin's 1962 recording of the work with Leonard Bernstein is an uneven affair, at times effective, at other times too brash and coarse, and afflicted throughout with harsh, unpleasant sound. This one is subtler, suggesting, in its wider range of tempos, more of the music's wonderfully zany contrasts. This is a score with which the Marlboro season concluded for many years, and it is impossible to judge whether or not Sony has selected the finest of those many accounts for release. But it is an interesting reading, and one that provides added dimension to what we know of Serkin's way with this extraordinary exercise in written-out improvisation. In both Beethoven works the sound is more than adequate.

The two remaining pieces in this set bespeak the wide-ranging chamber-music activities that define so much of the Marlboro Festival. Although carrying a high opus number, Dvo?ák's G-Major Quintet is an early work, a fact underscored by its being played in this performance in its original, five-movement version, which includes a second-movement Intermezzo omitted in the composer's revision. The 1976 performance is vital and idiomatic, with the double bass being especially well defined. The musicians' breathing, however, is so audibly intrusive that it becomes, in effect, an unrelenting sixth instrument. Having had no previous exposure to the woodwind suite that Janá?ek composed as a reminiscence of childhood, I hesitate to judge what sounds like a splendid (beautifully recorded) 1997 performance. Composed in 1924, it is a late work abounding in the characteristic motivic fragments that animate much of the composer's music. It provides a welcome conclusion to a sampling emblematic of Marlboro's distinction.

-- Mortimer H. Frank, FANFARE [1/2001]
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Rudolf Serkin (Piano)
Conductor:  Alexander Schneider
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 07/07/1974 
Venue:  Live  Marlboro Music Festival, Marlboro, VT 
Length: 36 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Fantasia in C minor, Op. 80 "Choral Fantasy" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  David Evitts (Baritone), Sanford Sylvan (Baritone), Nan Nall (Soprano),
Shirley Close (Mezzo Soprano), Rudolf Serkin (Piano), Beverly Morgan (Mezzo Soprano),
Gene Tucker (Tenor)
Conductor:  Peter Serkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra,  Marlboro Festival Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 08/09/1981 
Venue:  Live  Marlboro Music Festival, Marlboro, VT 
Length: 20 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Language: German 
Quintet for String Quartet and Double Bass in G major, Op. 77/B 49 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Peter Rejto (Cello), Caroline Levine (Viola), Julius Levine (Double Bass),
Joseph Genualdi (Violin), Daniel Phillips (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875; Bohemia 
Date of Recording: 08/06/1976 
Venue:  Live  Marlboro Music Festival, Marlboro, VT 
Length: 41 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Youth by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Radovan Vlatkovic (French Horn), Paula Robison (Flute), Jennifer Kuhns (Oboe),
Michael Rusinek (Clarinet), Igor Begelman (Clarinet), Daniel Matsukawa (Bassoon)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; Brno, Czech Republic 
Date of Recording: 08/16/1997 
Venue:  Live  Marlboro Music Festival, Marlboro, VT 
Length: 15 Minutes 17 Secs. 

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