This is the only
complete surviving document of Fritz Busch’s Ninth. Busch,
who in 1922 had been appointed Generalmusikdirektor of Dresden
State Opera, was dismissed from that post in March 1933 due
to Nazi power. In June, Busch left Germany, only returning
at the very end of his life. Soon after his departure from
Germany he became affiliated with Glyndebourne; he was its
first music director from 1934.
The sound is clear and has fair body, with only mild
muddying in the lower mid to bass ranges. Most impressive
of all is Busch’s structural grasp. He holds the arrival
points clearly in mind, and yet never undermines the emotional
importance of surface detail. His moulding of crescendi
expertly managed. It is almost as if Busch can maintain Toscanini’s
fiery surface motion while keeping some of Furtwängler’s
famous long-range thought. Could Busch have been the missing
link between the two, the so-called Toscwängler - a horrible
name, I know, but Furtanini sounds even worse?
The second movement Molto vivace
is not as tidy
of ensemble as the first movement, but this is a sprightly
performance. Busch sets a challengingly rapid pace, and at
times one can sense the Danish players struggling to keep
to the tactus. Timpani solos are incisive, though. It is
the Adagio molto e cantabile
that is richest in dividends.
The opening is serenely gentle and it is here that we really
feel the superiority of Guild’s transfer, Remastering is
courtesy of Peter Reynolds.
opening of the finale laudably avoids distortion but inevitably
perhaps lacks the visceral edge of more modern recordings.
The tutti sounds a little blunted. No mistaking the Toscanini-like
headlong dash around 5:50. Holder Byrding has to use all
of his persuasive powers to get the idea of “other” sounds
(joy) across. The recording clearly favours the choral tenors.
Eric Sjöberg, the solo tenor, is enthusiastic in his solo
leading into the concentrated fugue - wherein Busch generates
tension aplenty. There is a ragged, half-hearted choral entry
at around 17:30. All is forgotten and forgiven when we get
to the magical passage for all four soloists around 21 minutes
in. Rarely - if ever - have I heard a quartet of soloists
that works so well together and is so perfectly in balance,
with all four egos held on a strong leash. Worth it for those
moments alone, really; a more long-sighted critical appraisal
simply reinforces the strength and integrity of this account
of the Ninth.
is superbly paced. The strings, in particular impress, especially
in the lead-in to the main, fast, body of the overture. Lower
strings move adeptly at speed. The solo trumpet fanfares
do sound rather brass-bandish, but the drama remains intact,
and actually ignites in the tempestuous coda. This Leonore
to have previously only been issued on LP on Denmark’s POKO
Records label (PLP8401/3) and is therefore a greater rarity
than the Ninth which was previously on multiple labels, including
Heliodor and Melodiya (!) on LP and Urania on CD. The present
CD was issued in conjunction with two other Ninths (Toscanini/Colón
1941 and Furtwängler/Berlin March 1942). Jonathan Woolf gives
a typically perceptive review
and contrasting all three here on MusicWeb
. This Busch
Ninth stands magnificently on its own merits, though, despite
the occasional caveat.
see also review by Jonathan Woolf