Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Nicolai Malko – the Danish Connection. Recordings with the Danish State Broadcasting Orchestra 1947-50
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Egmont –overture Op. 84 (1810)
Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)

Symphony No. 9 in E minor Op. 95 B178 (1893)
Piotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)

Capriccio Italien Op. 45 (1880)
Serenade in C Op. 48 – Waltz (1880)
The Sleeping Beauty, ballet – Variation VI – Lilac Fairy (1890)
Mazeppa, opera – Gopak (1884)
The Nutcracker, ballet Op. 71 – Waltz of the Flowers (1892)
Johan SVENDSEN (1840-1911)

Festival polonaise Op. 12 (1873)
Carnival in Paris Op. 9 (1872)
Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)

Maskarade – Overture FS39 (1906)
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)

Suite II (1921)
Nicolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)

Capriccio espagnol Op. 34 (1887)
The Tale of Tsar Salta, opera – Flight of the Bumble Bee (1900)
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1905-1978)

Gayaneh, ballet – Sabre Dance, Dance of the Rose Maidens, Ballet (1942/57)
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)

The Fair at Sorochintsyï, opera – Gopak (1913)
Anatole LIADOV (1855-1914)

Baba-Yaga Op. 56 (1891-1904)
Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)

Raymonda, ballet – Grande Valse Op. 57 (1896-97)
The Danish State Broadcasting Orchestra all items except
Philharmonia Orchestra (Khachaturian, Mussorsgky, Liadov, Glazunov, Flight of the Bumble Bee, Mazeppa and the Nutcracker)
Nicolai Malko
Recorded 1947-50
DANACORD DACOCD 549-550 [2 CDs: 147. 09]


After vicissitudes in the Soviet Union in the later 1920s – when exit visa bans became increasingly commonplace – Nicolai Malko, who at the beginning of the decade had premiered Miaskovsky’s Fifth Symphony and in 1926 Shostakovich’s First, managed to leave for good. He was scouted by Danish Radio and as his calling card to the Radio Symphony Orchestra in Axelborg he dusted down the Miaskovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov’s evergreen Capriccio Espagnol. Shortly after, the orchestra duly enlarged, Malko was to take charge and he conducted it for just under a decade, until forced out by the War. Both he and Fritz Busch, who also conducted the Radio Orchestra, returned in the 1946-47 season.

There are some splendid things here but none better than the Dvořák. Of course the world hardly clamours for another New World, which from the early discographic days of Landon Ronald and Hamilton Harty has not lacked for proponents. But there’s something about this performance that grips from the off. Fresh, verdant and quite quick the first movement is lively and affectionate (though there is somewhat hobbled rhythm at 4.21 – which sounds like a side break that has almost imperceptibly loosened the rhythm). But it’s the slow movement that is really impressive. It conveys tension even at a slow basic tempo – expansive, long-breathed with emotive wind solos, well-nuanced counter-themes, and no sense of orchestral saturation or sentimentality. On the contrary there is real delicacy of articulation and architecturally a most impressively maintained movement. The Scherzo is brisk and active but still has enough time for the winds to breathe freely and the finale is strong and virile, imaginative and flexible – with Malko ensuring that the winds are clearly heard even with the powerfully incursive string lines. As I said this is a strongly individual and impressive reading.

Elsewhere the winds are again characterful in Egmont – and the lower strings are the very opposite of the Germanic bottom up tradition. There is clarity instead and quite a mellow sensibility generally. Note values are inclined to be brisk, Malko allowing melodic contouring and rise and fall of material (with crescendos and decrescendos) that aerate the score rather than submerge it. If this is how you prefer your Egmont – Mendelssohnian rather than Wagnerian – then you will like Malko’s performance, even if the fiddles sound a little understaffed. When it comes to Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien we find Malko on bracing but not unsubtle form – plenty of ebullience and string finesse as well. He recorded two pieces by Svendsen – the ceremonial bustle of the Festival polonaise gives us the public face of the composer of the celebrated Romance whilst Carnival in Paris is characterful and a vigorous little piece very well conducted, with a puckish Parisian bassoon telling its own story, full of Gallic flair and repose, romance and lilting delicacy. Hardly proto-Straussian or Cockaigne, much less Delius’s (overwritten) Paris but worth an occasional diversion. Nielsen’s Overture to Maskarade is full of Malko’s (does one say Malkovician?) bustle and brio, bringing out the vigorous humour with perfectly scaled intelligence. His Waltz from Tchaikovsky’s Serenade is not quite elfin enough for me – the bass line is too strong – but the Stravinsky Suite (all six minutes of it) is well characterized – etched and pointed - and the Polka sounding like the whole of Walton’s Façade in 54 seconds. The Rimsky-Korsakov Capriccio espagnol is nicely done if without Barbirolli’s luminous affection and the Philharmonia tracks that conclude the set – little showpieces to lighten and brighten post-War austerity are convincing; listen to the wind playing and lilting strings in the Dance of the Rose Maidens from the Khachaturian or the spitting venom of the performance of Liadov’s Baba-Yaga.

The notes are full and helpful, all release issue numbers and dates are present and correct (and matrix numbers as well) and this is a fine collection of Malko’s late forties, early fifties self. The peach is the slow movement of the Dvorak but everything is characterful and full of his energy and commitment.

Jonathan Woolf

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