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AntonŪn DVOŘŃK (1841-1904)
Symphony No.9 in E minor Op.95 From the New World (1893) [40.16]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Violin Concerto (1905) [33.04]
Danilo Belardinelli (violin)
Orchestra stabile dellíAccademia di Santa Cecilia/Joseph Keilberth
Live recordings in Rome at the Teatro Argentina, April 27th 1952
ARCHIPEL ARPCD 0302 [73.25]

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Keilberth may have had an advantage over many of his German contemporaries when it came to Czech music. Between 1940 and 1945 he was the resident conductor of the German Philharmonic Orchestra in occupied Prague in which capacity he made some recordings for Telefunken. This was not a position to endear him to Czech patriots, doubtless, but his later, small discography did include Rusalka (for Urania), and the New World Symphony with the Bamberg Orchestra. In Hamburg he set down DvořŠkís Cello Concerto with Ludwig Hoelscher and there was also a Carnaval Overture and some Slavonic Dances again with the Bamberg.

What we have here is a 1952 concert performance of the New World Symphony with the Orchestra stabile dellíAccademia di Santa Cecilia and given in Rome. Keilberth was an active guest conductor after the War and the symphony would have been a good compromise on both sides. The audience is not too restive though there are a few coughs but the sound is rather unsubtle and raw. There are some orchestral imprecisions (chording in the winds) but the performance, while in no way remarkable, does have a vigorous boldness to it. The relatively slow tempo for the slow movement accords with that taken by Talich and by KubelŪk and itís actually not so far off Reinerís tempo in Chicago. A feature of interest is the expressive quality of the front desk string players at the close of the movement. Iím not sure about the very short gap between this and the scherzo - it surely didnít reflect the concert performance Ė but the finale is neatly shaped, pretty fast but not breathlessly phrased and with a good sense of plasticity.

Coupled with it is the Sibelius Concerto with Danilo Belardinelli. I donít know of him as a violinist but assume that this is the same man who is better known now as a conductor. Once more the recording is raw and up front but this time we have the added burden that the soloist is very much primus inter pares and it does make for tiring listening, especially when counter-themes are submerged and the orchestral contribution tends to be tentative and opaque.† Belardinelli and Keilberth take a relatively measured view Ė itís more Ignatius and Haendel than Heifetz, Oistrakh or Stern in that respect Ė but itís certainly a plausible one, though I happen to prefer a quicker tempo. His vibrato is inclined to be one-dimensional and tense and though there are some fluffs and missed notes Belardinelli seems sympathetic to the work. What is less in evidence is a structural tightness; things do sag metrically and passagework can sound dogged and a bit forced. I quite like the rather feminine cast of the slow movement though itís not at all dramatic but the finale is prosaic and the orchestral playing is very literal minded.

As usual with this label there are no notes. Itís apparently previously unissued and Hi End Restoration has been employed - whatever that means (I have no idea Ė treble boosting?). I canít see this as an especially enticing prospect, though itís cheap and there may be a market of some sort for Belardinelliís Sibelius or Keilberth in general.

Jonathan Woolf



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