I’m listening to a recording of Das Lied von der Erde that has been much awaited among Mahlerphiles: the concert recording of June 14, 1968 with Fritz Wunderlich, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and the Vienna Symphony conducted by Josef Krips. Back when I was with Andante there had been talk about attempting to release the recording; alas, those plans did not come to pass. The good news is that it’s finally been given an “official” release by Deutsche Grammophon. To say the extrovert, characterful performance transcends the boxy sonority (that sounds to these ears to have come from a true “taped off the Telefunken receiver” aircheck and not from a broadcast or archival master) is an understatement – the singing is stunning, and what a treat to hear Krips get such evocative playing from the Vienna Symphony. It’s the most edifying and satisfying vocal release I’ve heard so far this year. Highly recommended.
Regular readers know that I’m a fan of the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. While she may have been gone nearly five years, a number of live recordings have been released since her untimely passing that strongly complement her studio output.
The voice of legendary critic and musicologist Deryck Cooke has officially been recovered from the depths of the BBC’s tape archives.
On December 10, 1960, the Third Programme (now Radio 3) aired Cooke’s lecture-demonstration on his first realization (with the assistance of composer Berthold Goldschmidt) of Mahler’s Symphony No. 10 followed by a performance of the near-complete realization by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Goldschmidt. This program has long circulated privately among Mahler enthusiasts. Testament Records has just released a newly remastered edition of the broadcast under license from the Beeb — along with a live Proms performance of the completed first realization (with further assistance from David and Colin Matthews) on August 13, 1964 by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Goldschmidt.
I’ve just put disc one on the CD player, and can attest to a huge improvement in sound quality over any privately circulated version I’ve run across. I will have much more to say about this release in the next few days. And here’s something else Mahlerites and admirers of Cooke might find interesting.
Nothing quite cheers up an overcast Sunday afternoon in New York City like a little bit of music — in today’s case, that of Michael Finnissy. I’m typing this between the first two tracks on the “Lost Lands” CD, a program of works drawing on the sounds of disappearing musical cultures, from UK indie Metier Records. Oboist Christopher Redgate and percussionist Julian Warburton dispatch the complexities and nuances of “Dilok” and “Dalal”, two particularly pungent and exuberant works, with jaw-dropping ease. The remaining tracks, played by members of new music ensemble Topologies, are equally exciting.
Our cat Nicolò meowed one of his assertive meows as the first movement cadenza of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (the Oistrakh / Cluytens / French National Radio Orchestra recording on EMI) was about to emerge from the speakers — and then another as the tricky double-stops toward the end of the cadenza commenced. He’d been fed, so it wasn’t about “noms“. Nic sounded critical of something, but of what exactly I’m not certain, as he walked away.
I am still in the process of sorting through a pile of product samples, swag, and tchotchkes which I brought back from MIDEM over a month ago (which goes to show you how busy things are at Casa Gaudette), and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a number that are well worth some comment. So this is the first in four installments of new product worth tracking down.
A month after Carlos Kleiber died, I ran into a prominent conductor of my acquaintance at Academy Records. When talk turned to Kleiber, he sighed and said, “My God, he was the greatest of us all. The greatest.”
Watch the opening segment of Eric Schulz’s deeply moving portrait of Kleiber, in the words and recollections of his colleagues intercut with rehearsal and concert footage, here. Hat tip: Sybille Werner.
UPDATE: It’s out now on DVD in North America. Find the best price here. If you were in New York City during October 1990 and caught Der Rosenkavalier at the MET, you know what all the buzz was about.
I’m a huge fan of wizardly recording engineer Tony Faulkner, a longtime practicioner of “less-is-more” audiophile recording techniques. He hasn’t hesitated to tip a few sacred cows over the years, and created a major fuss in the classical recording industry during the early 1990s when he had the audacity to criticize no less an institution than Deutsche Grammophon on the matter of their overhyped, artificial-sounding “4D” recording process. In an editorial posted to Classical Source, Tony puts the smackdown on the venerable BBC for labeling its Radio 3 transmissions as “H[igh] D[efinition]” when it simply isn’t true (we’ve been seeing similar misleading monkeyshines in the States). The editorial is a must-read for audiophiles and casual listeners alike.
Once again, it’s the end of the year and time to proclaim my not-so-humble opinions as to my favorite releases of 2010:
The confusing and convoluted tale of my journey from composer to record label jack-of-all-trades to registered lobbyist (for the good guys in health and the performing arts) to renegade reissue producer is best left to a post all its own, but after having read and heard a litany of positive feedback on one reissue project with which I was recently involved, I feel the urge to weigh in. Continue reading