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The Hallé Tradition
AntonŪn DVOŘŃK (1841-1904)

Carnival Overture
Symphony No.9 in E minor Op.95 From The New World
Nocturne in B major Op.40 +
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)

Hungarian Dances Nos. 5 in F sharp minor and 6 in D flat major
Hallé Orchestra /Sir Hamilton Harty
Hallé Orchestra/Leslie Heward +
Recorded 1927 (Symphony and Carnival) 1929 (Brahms) and 1941 (Nocturne)
Also functions as CD-ROM with details of the disc and promotional material for the orchestra
HALLÉ TRADITION CD HLT8000 [54.00]


This is a series thatís been a long time coming. The Hallé Orchestra has a relatively illustrious recording history but the early days Ė the Harty years Ė have mainly been documented on CD by concerto recordings. Harty was one of the leading piano accompanists of his day and later, as a conductor, became a favoured Columbia recording artist. In that role we have seen numerous re-releases of the Brahms/Szigeti and the Tchaikovsky/Solomon recordings. In fact a previous disc in this Hallé series has disinterred the 1925 Bruch G minor/Sammons. Now however we have a major symphonic statement, the 1927 New World as well as the Carnaval Overture. The Bohemian theme continues with the short-lived Leslie Hewardís 1941 recording of the Nocturne in B flat and we end with some lusty Brahms, once more from Harty.

The Ninth Symphony gets a spirited, driving performance from Harty Ė lithe strings, plenty of portamenti, strong brass and distinctive winds. Itís a broadly classical reading stressing the architectural assurance of the work and not stopping to admire the scenery overmuch. Similar qualities relate to Carnaval Ė Harty was clearly a warm but not sentimental DvořŠkian. But Iím afraid you wonít hear all the qualities of the performance from this transfer. The Symphony is not making its first appearance on CD and neither are the Brahms Dances. Symposium has the New World on SYMP CD 1169 where itís coupled with a mixture of pieces by Bax, Berlioz, Elgar, Mussorgsky and Balakirev and Symposiumís non-interventionist approach is much preferable. It gives me no pleasure at all to say this Ė as this is a series to which I was greatly looking forward Ė but all the discs Iíve heard so far have all suffered badly over-processed restoration. There is ambient (Cedar, or Cedar-like?) noise throughout, and little "clicks" pepper the Symphony. Side joins are usually good but not always (the Carnaval join isnít good) and there is, on my review copy, what sounds like wow in the Symphony [track 3, 1.38 onwards and elsewhere] The heavily veiled processing has completely removed acoustic presence. I compared my own set of the 78s with this transfer and there really is no comparison. In removing residual shellac hiss Iím afraid everything else has been sacrificed as well, in a way familiar from some of those disastrous early Philips CD historic reissues. The Heward/Nocturne transfer is similarly impaired; greatly inferior to the Art of Leslie Heward double LP set (EMI).

Iím genuinely sorry to be so negative about this release. But even at the tempting price this disc is still more expensive than a Naxos. Harty left a strong body of symphonic and concerto recordings and his legacy should be available, no question. But I canít recommend these transfers at all; they donít do justice to that legacy.

Jonathan Woolf

 



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