These are live recordings
emerging here in clean 'Honest John' mono from Audite who
are quite justly held in high esteem by the German radio
companies’ archive chiefs. The unshowy audio integrity of
these tapes is typical of European radio work of the time
- analogue hiss well subdued. The sound is not splendid but
remains totally enjoyable.
an audience present in both cases and while well-groomed
they are prone to the occasional, cough, creak and rustle
- especially in the Saint-Säens
, speaking of which
this work is in two solid movements. It has a sturdy majesty
and a Beethovenian repose which occasionally descends into
decoration. In that sense the Concerto is no different than
many other romantic concertos. Casadesus lends substance
to the decoration and gravitas to the reflective moments.
Decoration tips towards absurdity in the galloping section
at 1.55 in the finale which sounds as if it escaped from
vaudeville. The galloping figures favoured by this composer
work well in the masterly Second Concerto but can seem miscalculated
is prime Ormandy territory and he recorded it several
times. The one I am familiar with is the version with the
Philadelphia on Sony
. The italicised tenderness of the
first movement is notable. Much care is taken over the
most tender of details. Listen to the conductor at 1.35
in I where every hesitant breath and pressing forward is
relished. Every detail is engraved by a craftsman. I have
yet to hear a Monteux version of 4 but this fascination
with detail reminded me of Monteux's way with the Fifth
Symphony and the LSO in Vienna in 1960 (Vanguard
That said, the French conductor gives a better feeling
for the overall architectonic skeleton of the work.
of the RIAS Symphony Orchestra are sturdy not stolid.
Listen to the way they chisel out the tragic fanfaring at
8:10 in the first movement. They major on the iron in the
brass rather than the gold. Their tone is stern not plump
- sin botox
as we might now say.
approach is affectionate but never sloppy - refreshingly
honest. In the finale he takes pains over clarity in the
way he sculpts those gaunt fanfares. This is nowhere near
as impulsively headlong as Mravinsky's Leningrad Phil DG recordings
made in London in 1960. On the other hand Ormandy is a wily
hand and saves the zest for the whirlwind of the finale’s
last four minutes.
Casadesus and Tchaikovsky enthusiasts will need this.