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If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Hekel TAVARES (1896-1969)
Concerto in Brazilian Forms for piano and orchestra No. 2 Op. 105 [25.06]
Isaac ALBENIZ (1860-1909)
Spanish Rhapsody for piano and orchestra Op. 70 (1895) [12.53]
Piano Concerto No. 1 Concierto Fantastico Op. 78 (1886) [25.48]
Felicja Blumental (piano)
Filarmonica Triestina/Luigi Toffolo (Rhapsody)
Torino Orchestra/Alberto Zedda (Fantastico)
London SO/Anatole Fistoulari (Tavares)
rec. no dates given but presumably 1950s, AAD
BRANA RECORDS BR0002
[61.07]

AVAILABILITY

mark@branarecords.com
www.branarecords.com

Mark Walmsley
Brana Records
Suites 6 and 7
Meridian House
28 Station Road
Redhill
SURREY RH1 1PD

LINKS
www.classicaldiscoveries.com
www.felicjablumental.com

Blumental is the linking factor between this disc and Brana's BR0001 Villa-Lobos Live!

The recordings on this disc seem, in the case of the Tavares and the Spanish Rhapsody, to be in mono and all can fairly be described as historical though not historic.

The Tavares is written for fun and entertainment. It is an audacious confection in which Beethovenian serenity (Moonlight Sonata and the middle movement of the Emperor) meets the passion of Rachmaninov (Paganini Rhapsody and Second Piano Concerto). De Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain and Brazilian popular dance forms (not as much of the Brazilian dance material as you might have guessed) also make an unmistakable presence. There are times when you are sure Tavares is ram-raiding Rachmaninov. The recording is rather thin-sounding and one-dimensional as befits the original LP but it is serviceable enough. The orchestra plays with fire in their bellies for Fistoulari. The LSO are a class act beside the Torino and Trieste orchestras.

The Albeniz works sparkle with life or sing with grace even more so than the Tavares. Indeed in the company of the Tavares concerto they sound positively profound. The Rhapsody, by the way, is also known as the 'Second Piano Concerto' though it is only just over twelve minutes duration and in a single movement. The orchestra can sound rather squealy (e.g. 4.47). The work itself is a gentle enough meditation on the Iberian dream - more reticent reflection than virtuoso bash.

The best sounding recording is that of the Piano Concerto No. 1. The acoustic suddenly opens up after the comparative constrictions of the Tavares and the Rhapsody. I have known this work for many years via a tape of a broadcast of the original LP. Romantic phrases are elegantly turned and spun and Blumental is brilliant to match. While the first movement is over-extended the second (reverie e scherzo) and the third, an allegro, have some lovely ideas which place it in company with the Scriabin and Arensky works. Listen to the playful sunlight of the dancing Dvořákian allegro figuration at 1.50 in the finale.

These must surely be recordings from the 1950s. The documentation does not help me with putting dates and locations to the sessions. The recordings have been reclaimed, presumably from cherished LPs, by The Classical Record Company (www.classicalrecording.com). The restoration has been well done with every spot and click removed and a clean and fairly natural sound delivered.

Given that the first two CDs from this company are centred around recordings made by Felicja Blumental I wonder if there is some family connection with the firm or is it simply that Brana is run by Blumental fans? Whatever the background may be this is a fascinating disc and the record catalogue is the richer for Brana’s presence albeit reticently untrumpeted.

Rob Barnett


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