> Ferenc Fricsay [JW]: Classical CD Reviews- Sept 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Ferenc Fricsay
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
L’Italiana in Algeri, overture
Johann STRAUSS (1825-1899)
An der schonen blauen Donau
Wiener Blut
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
La Traviata Act III
Carl ORFF (1895-1982)
Carmina Burana – extracts
Elfriede Trotschel, Violetta
Annelies Herrfruth, Annina
Peter Anders, Alfredo
Joseph Metternich, Germont
Josef Greindl, Doctor
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone (Orff)
 Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (Rossini, Strauss) RIAS SO and Kammerchor (Verdi, Orff)
Ferenc Fricsay
Recorded 1949-51
 TAHRA TAH454 [60’55]


I’m a great admirer of Fricsay and of Tahra but this is really something of a mixed bag. I’m not entirely sure either – perhaps someone can assist – as to the exact provenance of a couple of these items and Tahra’s discographical details are somewhat lacking. The Rossini and two Strauss items are properly known and derive from commercial recordings made by Fricsay with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1949 and 1951. Fricsay was a strong disciplinarian and an authoritative orchestral trainer, though he was to flower somewhat later in these respects than this early post-War period. Even in 1949 though – he was born in 1914 – he had a firm approach to dynamics and orchestral decorum – listen in the Rossini to the strong fortissimo strings, the crisply delineated dynamics and some rather delicious playing all round. In the Strauss he sways with infectious rhythm, whether in the Blauen Donau or encouraging the most succulent phrasing in Wiener Blut. The Orff however is a barely seven minute fragment, recorded on 8 December 1949 and Tahra doesn’t indicate whether it was ever issued, though matrix numbers were clearly assigned and are cited, though no issue number is noted. It’s customary to call this kind of thing a tantalising glimpse or precious fragment or something but it’s really too brief for either. The German language Act III of La Traviata features an imposing cast – Trotschel, Anders and Greindl especially – and this RIAS performance dates from 5th and 6th January 1951. Presumably deriving from radio broadcasts this is a fluently conducted performance, not ideally idiomatic, but one that has moments of affecting if circumscribed drama. If the foregoing sounds lukewarm I’m afraid that it does reflect the nature of this disc which is far too disparate to attract the curious, and perhaps only the Traviata Act will attract Fricsay devotees.

Jonathan Woolf

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