BRAHMS: Academic Festival
Overture, Alto Rhapsody*, Symphony No. 1 in C minor
Orchestra/London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir Clemens
Krauss. * with Kathleen Ferrier: alto. Concertegebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam
Eduard van Beinum.
Dutton Laboratories CDK1210
66m ADD (Transferred from Decca originals 1947).
Fiery conductor though he was, Clemens Krauss was capable of genial music
making and his Brahms can be counted amongst the finest in the post-war period.
These rare recordings make a welcome reissue and refurbished in magnificent
sound they are true gems in the Dutton CDK range.
A trenchant Academic Festival Overture includes some wonderful tutti from
a clearly inspired LSO and the big theme at the end is appropriately paced
to reveal a majestic grandeur that is conspicuously lacking from other
interpretations by lesser mortals! Kathleen Ferrier's Alto Rhapsody is purely
ravishing, her autumnal singing matched with peerless distinction by the
LPO. Krauss is a sympathetic accompanist and he phrases the choir's palpable
entry with almost harrowing timing; the effect is rather splendid. I rate
it as one of the finest Rhapsodies on record and it is indeed a shame that
we have had to wait so long for its release, but thanks to Michael Dutton
that ill has now been marvelously cured.
Do we need another Brahms First, I hear you ask? Splendid interpretations
by Klemperer, Kempe, Toscanini (magnificent Testament reissue) and a host
of others fill out the catalogue but I will always find room for this white
hot interpretation from Amsterdam. Eduard van Beinum is a seriously underrated
conductor but the slow trickle of recordings that are becoming available
confirms him as a worthy successor to the great Willem Mengelberg. This Brahms
First is indeed marvelous with an urgent steady tempo set throughout that
culminates in an irresistibly beautiful rendering of the Finale; one of the
finest codas I have ever heard. The Concertgebouw's playing is utterly hair
raising and the recording is perfectly clear, another tribute to Decca's
engineering post war. A must have then, for all historical devotees.