Notes and Editorial Reviews
Valuable live performances.
This is the latest in Guild’s excellent Fritz Busch restorations. The programming is varied, locations wholly Stockholm-based, and the dates of performance range from just before the war to just after.
Busch was one of the leading Mozartians of his generation and the composer is here represented by the overture to
Così fan Tutte with the Kungliga Theatre Orchestra in March 1940. The sound is very dull, whilst the playing is fast and sometimes even furious. Hindemith’s
Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber was composed in 1944 and is given in this 1949 Stockholm reading where he makes something – if not wholly everything – of
Turandot scherzo movement. Elsewhere he is idiomatic and intelligent. Larsson’s
Ostinato is the third movement of his Op.17 Second Symphony but it was also performed separately as an orchestral showpiece, as here, in 1949 once more. It begins with deceptive reserve, soon bristling and burgeoning into an occasionally baroque-tinged and powerful set piece.
Both Busch brothers were very well versed in Reger’s musical language. Fritz conducts the
Phantasie on the chorale ‘Wie Schön leuch’t uns der Morgenstern’ in his own orchestration, made in 1937. One hesitates to affirm any Stokowskian allegiance – Fritz’s brother Adolf had re-orchestrated Reger’s Violin Concerto, so it was something of a family pastime – but it’s certainly grandly conceived. It’s suggested in the notes that this performance may come from a rehearsal because it’s not listed in the programme of the concert on 4 December 1949. Might Busch not have included it late?
Berwald’s overture to
Estrella di Soria alternates brooding intensity and driving and stormy animation. The sound is quite well defined but rather dull at the top. This leaves Louis Krasner’s performance of Berg’s Violin Concerto (20 April 1938), the earliest of the preserved inscriptions here. Fortunately Krasner, who premiered the work, left behind more than one recording, studio and live. The Cleveland/Rodzinski is probably the best known, the BBC/Webern (Testament SBT1004) the most historically important. The sound is not great, though significantly improving on the little publicised LP transfer of the performance [GM2006 coupled with Schoenberg’s Violin Concerto, Krasner with Mitropoulos]. The pops, ticks and scratches that accompanied the LP are gone, but there is still some overload. So it’s not a simple aural ride, but it is a consistent source of interest, even though Busch conducted the Concerto just this one time. Krasner’s quick slides and his silvery but somewhat abrasive tone are constant features of his tonal arsenal; when he coarsens that tone it’s of real expressive interest. Busch, by the way, is very, very much faster than Webern in his May 1936 performance with Krasner.
These valuable performances come with a small caveat about sound quality, though this is surely not an obstacle to those who collect live material from this period.
-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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