Notes and Editorial Reviews
Although all of this live material has been released previously (and most of it also recorded by Kubelík commercially), this box is far from complete. There are no concertos, for example, and Orfeo released more Hartmann, a Handel Concerto Grosso, and choral works as well. Granted, this set features “symphonic recordings,” but it would have been ideal for collectors to have everything in the series in one place. The repertoire also mixes the live, “red label” issues with some of Orfeo’s very earliest releases, such as the Smetana Ma Vlast and Brahms symphonies.
There are four truly outstanding performances among these fifteen discs: Dvorák’s Sixth Symphony, Janácek’s Sinfonietta, Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony, and Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. The Hartmann Symphonic Hymns is very good too (and hard to find otherwise). The rest of the Dvorák (Symphonies 7-9 and the two serenades) is mostly fine, even if Kubelik has already done excellent work in this repertoire. The same holds true of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, a performance interestingly different from Kubelik’s benchmark version with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
The Haydn (Symphony No 99) and Mozart (Symphonies 25, 38, 40 and 41) are standard, big-band classical repertoire with no outstanding features, and the same might be said of the good but not great Beethoven’s Ninth, the Berlioz Symphonie fantastique and Corsaire Overture, the Bruckner Eighth, and the Smetana and Brahms pieces already mentioned.
The recordings date from 1963-85, and the sonics range from decent broadcast quality to superb.
– ClassicsToday.com (David Hurwitz)