Another hit from Down
Under. Not by Kletzki this time, but
his successor in Geneva, Walter Weller.
Decca had the Kletzki Rachmaninov cycle
under way when the conductor (Paul Kletzki)
died, thus preventing its completion,
and also leaving a hole in the Suisse
Romande’s podium. The orchestra was
very lucky to find a worthy replacement
in the person of Walter Weller, who,
based upon the evidence of this disc,
continued the work first started by
Paul Kletzki very effectively. Decca,
who had been in progress with Kletzki
to record the Rachmaninov cycle were
thwarted by the conductor’s death and
started another cycle with Walter Weller,
which happily was completed and issued
in LP format in the early 1970s. Eloquence
has used Weller’s performance of No.1
to complement the other two Kletzki-conducted
discs issued also this month.
Walter Weller then
completed further recordings of orchestral
pieces with the LPO, one of which is
coupled with the Symphony. If I say
that this performance of the First is
closer than any others I know to Ormandy’s
version on Sony, I can give it no higher
praise. Once again the playing of the
Suisse Romande is superb, and follows
on the good work that Kletzki started.
The only drawback is
that Eloquence, having issued Nos. 2
and 3 in the Kletzki interpretations
is unlikely, I would think, to release
the Weller performances. That’s a shame
as these are all superb.
was a major event in the composer’s
career. The premiere was completely
savaged by the critics, and this caused
the composer’s mental breakdown and
his withdrawal from composition for
a number of years. Helped by the efforts
of Dr. Dahl, and the Second Piano Concerto,
he was rehabilitated, and went on to
compose many other masterpieces. The
First Symphony has been tainted with
the effect of its birth for many years.
It was not until the score was re-constituted
from its orchestral parts that we were
able to experience this superb symphony
The finale became well
known in the UK when the finale was
chosen as the signature tune of a BBC
current affairs programme in the 1970s.
Since then there have been many fine
recordings, and this one is no exception.
As with Kletzki, the playing of the
Suisse Romande is absolutely superb,
and as with the Concertgebouw on the
other discs, one would be hard pressed
to tell the Swiss band from its London
or Amsterdam-based counterparts.
The Rock, an
extremely early work of the composer
does not have the following of its contemporary
works, and it is little thought of.
This is of small consequence, given
the blazing conviction of this performance.
Rather than join the detractors, I would
rather side with Tchaikovsky, who was
said to like the work immensely and
had requested permission from the composer
to conduct it.
Eloquence can be immensely
proud of their Rachmaninov Symphony
cycle – I will be returning to it often.