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Centenaire Eugen Jochum (1902-1987). Volume II.
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Symphony No. 33 K319 (1779) [Two performances]
Piano Concerto No. 9 Jeunehomme K271 (1777)
Serenade No. 13 Eine kleine Nachtmusik K525 (1787)
Concerto for Oboe K314 (1777)
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphony No. 6 Pastoral Op 68 (1808)
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Ein Deutsches Requiem Op. 45 (1857-68)
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)
Songs and Dances of Death (1877)
Clara Haskil (piano)
Haakon Stotijn (oboe)
Kim Borg (bass)
Clara Ebers (soprano) and Karl Schmitt-Walter (baritone)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (Mozart Symphony 33, Beethoven Symphony 6)
Concertgebouw Orchestra (Mussorgsky, Mozart Oboe Concert and Eine kleine Nachtmusik)
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (Brahms and Mozart Piano Concerto 9)
Eugen Jochum
Recorded commercially and live between 1948 and 1961
TAHRA 470/473 [4 CDs 250.53]
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Volume Two continues the good work I warmly welcomed in my recent review of the first of Tahra’s three big beautifully produced four-CD boxes devoted to Eugen Jochum. Contained here, in place of the conventional notes – volume one contained a mini biography – is Jochum’s discography minus a large number of as yet unissued broadcast material (Bavarian Radio alone has some 210 unissued items). Amongst the tantalising things awaiting issue are items missing from his commercial discography – the Sibelius Violin Concerto, Honegger’s Symphonie Liturgique, Janáček’s Sinfonietta, Hartmann’s Fourth Symphony and Furtwängler’s Second as well as things one might have assumed he would have recorded – Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben and the Four Last Songs and Dvořák’s Cello Concerto amongst them.

Volume 2 begins in 1948 with a live Berlin performance of a favourite of Jochum’s, Mozart’s Symphony No. 33, the first of two performances enshrined in this set – the other is a 1961 Amsterdam performance. It may seem strange but this was the Mozart work Jochum essayed most often and after a late start – he first played it in Hamburg in 1942 – he performed it in total no less than 121 times, which means it ranks alongside a known Jochum speciality like Bruckner 7 in his list of his most performed works. For the record above them in first place was Beethoven 7, followed by the Eroica, Bruckner 4, Brahms 4, Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel and Brahms 1. This vests the Mozart with a considerable weight in performance terms – and some indication is given by the fact that he performed it twice as often during his career as the G Minor, a work he first performed fifteen years before he first conducted the B flat. The wartime Berlin performance is punchier in the outer movements than the Concertgebouw traversal taped some 19 years later whilst in Berlin his Andante possessed a special rapture that he couldn’t quite replicate in his more fluent and fleet Montreux reading. The 1961 performance is attractively phrased and affectionately spun with a pliant and well aerated finale – airborne, full of ease and naturalness though not as fast as the wartime taping. Coupled with the earlier Mozart is Beethoven’s Pastoral, a commercial recording of 1951 that joins the Fifth and Seventh from the first volume in presenting Jochum’s Beethovenian credentials. He opens the Allegro ma non troppo first movement with a calculated, slowly articulated sense of laziness but is soon marshalling some strong bass weight and encouraging some particularly piquant and characterful wind contributions. Indeed they are a defining feature of Jochum’s slow but not indulgent Andante, which sports some really chewy cello tone and thrillingly trilled violins. I enjoyed his persuasively lyrical way with the Symphony.

Brahms’ German Requiem was recorded live on 26 October 1951 in Munich with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and soloists Clara Ebers and Karl Schmitt-Walter. Jochum elicits some expertly calibrated choral entries (exceptionally quiet in Selig sind) and some stylishly expressive oboe playing though it’s true that there’s a slight edge to the violins’ tone. Some tentative ensemble problems crop up now and again in Denn alles Fleisch es ist wie Gras and the brass can be buzzy and occasionally brazen. This is though a broadly traditional performance even though it lacks the invincible and majestic inevitability of, say, Klemperer or of Furtwängler in his Stockholm performance, taped three years earlier than Jochum’s. One can detect a slight strain at the top of his compass in Schmitt-Walter’s voice but he is a cultivated artist and whilst he may lose colour occasionally when forcing tone he makes up for it in expressively contoured singing. The Bavarian choir is good, strong, though once or twice lacking polish; they don’t always blend optimally. Clara Ebers shines in Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit – clarity and depth and insinuating use of portamento (she recorded the Requiem commercially and was a noted exponent of the role) whilst Jochum drives the conclusion home with considerable conviction.

Clara Haskil – a Mozartian to her fingertips – makes a welcome appearance in the Jeunehomme, K271. Her piano unfortunately sounds rather plummy whilst the orchestra sounds very bright and the two are never reconciled, at least aurally. Nice lyrical string counter themes decorate the first movement and Haskil is fluent with eventful little left hand runs. The Andantino is probably the worst movement to be affected by the congested sound because though one can appreciate the orchestral gravity and the outlines of the rise and fall of the dynamics, the lyrical "rightness" of the conception, the detail is rather too often mired in indistinctness. Rhythmic freedom runs throughout the finale and considerable ebullience from Haskil, as well as wit and a sense of gallantry. One or two smudges from her hardly matter when the playing is so full of high spirits. Jochum conducted Pictures at an Exhibition, Boris Godunov and the Songs and Dances of Death so he was not an inexperienced Mussorgsky conductor when in 1959 he accompanied the splendid Kim Borg in the last named. His conducting sounds perfectly idiomatic, black brass, flexible tempi and Borg in fine voice. The sound is extremely good and catches the way in which Borg darkens and coils his voice in Trepak and his strong sense of narrative, the vast changeability and volatility of his characterization. The drama and conviction of his hoarse toned Field Marshal is truly excellent.

Mozart completes the last disc in this set. Eine kleine Nachtmusik is genial and suitably determined in the slow movement – where necessary – even with one or two off stage noises. The rondo finale is full of frivolous wit. In the Oboe Concerto Haakon Stotijn comes to the fore. The Dutch oboist has a very individual tone and in terms of a Concerto performance is not sympathetically recorded in this live performance from the 1961 Montreux Festival – he sounds as if taped in glorious if disconcerting spatial isolation. He is a neat and tasteful player and comparison with Goossens and Colin Davis shows the Englishmen are very much slower and more reverential – they also point a quasi-operatic, distinctly vocalised profile here, which informs and characterises everything they play. Stotijn and Jochum are very much straighter and less inclined to linger. Both are – in their own ways – affectionate in the slow movement but conceptions of the Allegro finale vary once again with Goossens and Davis deciding to interpret it very much as "ma non troppo." As a soloist I prefer Goossens but as a performance I prefer Stotijn and Jochum.

Considerable care has gone into the production of this series and the booklet is no exception. Don’t be put off by the centrality of much of the repertoire in the discs. Jochum always had wise and important things to say here as he did elsewhere. The combination of commercial and off-air recordings continues to add spice to the mix and so another warm welcome to Volume II in this splendid series.

Jonathan Woolf

Volume 1 Volume 3


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