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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Triple Concerto for violin, cello and piano in C major, op.56 (1808) [34:02]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Double Concerto for violin and cello in A minor, op.102 (1887) [32:53]
Christian Ferras (violin); Paul Tortelier (cello) (Beethoven); Eric Heidsieck (piano) (Beethoven); Janos Starker (cello) (Brahms)
Orchestre National de Radio France/Jean Martinon (Beethoven)
Orchestre National de Radio France/Charles Bruck (Brahms)
rec. unnamed venues, 11 March 1970 (Beethoven) and 7 October 1969 (Brahms)
DOREMI LEGENDARY PERFORMANCES DHR7716 [66:55] 

 

Experience Classicsonline


According to my trusty copy of Collins English Dictionary, the only possible one of several meanings of “legendary” that can be appropriately applied to a commercial recording is “very famous or notorious”. 

As far as I am aware, these nearly forty years old live radio performances are neither famous nor notorious – let alone “very” of either. Perhaps Doremi are suggesting, by their labelling, that they ought to be so regarded? If so, I think they are, to say the least, over-egging the pudding for, even if graced by the participation of some very highly thought of musicians, these are essentially run-of-the-mill and rather muddily recorded outings. 

Moreover, there is a competing and identically-coupled pair of performances that has genuine claims to legendary status. One of EMI Classics’s Great Recordings of the Century, it features Oistrakh, Rostropovich and Richter, along with Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic, in the Beethoven, after which Oistrakh and Rostropovich are accompanied by George Szell’s Cleveland Orchestra in the Brahms (EMI Classics 5 66902 2). Alongside this giant, the “legendary” performances on the new disc fade back into the obscurity they have inhabited since they were first broadcast. 

From the very opening of Beethoven’s first movement, Ferras, Tortelier and Heidsieck sound, to my ears, somewhat cautious and tentative, almost as though they are working out on the hoof exactly how to interact with each other and are desperate not to steal too much of the individual limelight. Their Russian rivals, on the other hand, play with supreme individual flair and complete confidence, both in each other and as a collective unit, so that even if in reality their timings for all three movements are longer, each seems to go with more of an innate swing. 

The picture in the Brahms is much the same, I am afraid. Comparatively dim sound and rather ordinary performances hamstring this issue from the start and despite some moments of attractive playing from the soloists, this is really uncompetitive. 

The current fashion for trawling the archives of European radio stations has, as demonstrated by the Medici masters series, certainly recovered some lost treasures. But, as this disc demonstrates, even with the involvement of artists of the first rank, there is also a great deal of nondescript material out there too, most of it probably best consigned to the ether for ever.

Rob Maynard



 




 


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