Max BRUCH (1838-1920)
Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor Op.26 (1868) [22:24] Wolfgang FORTNER (1907-1987)
Concerto for violin and large chamber orchestra (1947) [21:04] Hans PFITZNER (1869-1949)
Violin Concerto in B minor Op.34 (1923) [31:35]
South German Radio Orchestra, Stuttgart/Hans Müller-Kray,
rec. September 1954 (Bruch)
RIAS Symphony Orchestra/Rudolf Kempe, rec. April 1955 (Pfitzner)
Südwestfunk Orchestra, Baden-Baden/Hans Rosbaud, rec. September
1950 (Fortner) MUSIKPRODUKTION
DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 6421443-2 [75:14]
star is in the ascendant. I’ve written about him quite extensively
here and he’s been eloquently served by Tahra (see reviews
of discs 350/51, 342 and 461),
as well as by the German branch of EMI.
But perhaps the most relevant recent release is MDG’s own
previous issue of the Beethoven and Fortner concertos (see review)
conducted by Solti and Furtwängler respectively, because
it now offers us two views of the Fortner concerto, a work
Taschner made very much his own. In addition we have a sizeable
bonus in the equally seldom performed Pfitzner concerto,
and the addition of the Bruch G minor.
Fortner with Rosbaud was given about ten months after the
Furtwängler performance. It’s tighter all round, most especially
in the slow movement, and one senses Rosbaud’s far greater
familiarity and experience with the idiom. Furtwängler sees
things in a more massive and marmoreal way and the gloomier
recording quality serves even more to exaggerate that conception.
Whereas Rosbaud, one of the great unsung accompanists, evokes
the Stravinskian elements with greater precision and athleticism.
The martial and threnodic elements are, however, rather more
deeply etched in the older performance. But again, to counterbalance
these positive and negative qualities, with Rosbaud rhythms
are altogether more sharply pointed and the neo-classicism
is more pronounced. The music ambles rather than lurches,
which it does have occasion to do in the earlier performance,
fine though that was on its own terms. As for Taschner he
is more obviously expressive with Furtwängler, whose concertmaster
he had been in Berlin, but plays with tremendous panache
and silvery intensity in both performances.
Pfitzner is an odd one. For years the only recording was
that by Susanne Lautenbacher with the Philharmonia Hungarica
under Gunther Wich – though that’s now changed as Saschko
Gawriloff has recorded it for CPO. It’s an energetic but
four square late Romantic effusion. Some of the writing is
very low and dark though there are also moments for the pirouetting
soloist. Some Tristan elements add gravity to the slow section
though it remains stubbornly unmemorable thematically, despite
the best attentions of no less than Kempe at the helm. The
more lightly swinging patterns in the final section are genuinely
attractive though some empty passagework spoils things – unusually
because this isn’t a bombastic work. Taschner plays excellently;
he’s faster and more virtuosic than Lautenbacher (I’ve not
heard the Gawriloff recording).
Bruch reveals some of the limitations of his playing, ones
I’ve referred to in my previous reviews. He lacks optimum
tonal breadth and makes the occasional exaggerated gesture
that sounds out-of-place. Some of the playing sounds impulsive
in the Furtwängler manner – rhythmic vitality pushing toward
excess. Müller-Kray can be rather gruff.
for the Fortner and Pfitzner recordings that collectors will
want this latest Taschner disc. When the playing is so fine
we can luxuriate in Rosbaud-conducted Fortner and Kempe-directed
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