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(1860-1911) CD 1 [66:22]
Symphony No.6 in A Minor (1903-05) - Andante [14:24]
Cologne Radio WDR
Orchestra/Dimitri Mitropoulos, rec. 31 August 1959
Symphony No. 9 (1909) - Adagio [21:07]
New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra/Dimitri Mitropoulos, rec.
23 January 1960
Symphony No.8 in E flat “Symphony of a Thousand”
(1910) Part 1 CD 2 [59:51]
Symphony No.8 in E flat “Symphony of a Thousand”
(1910) Part II
Hilde Zadek (sopranos), Lucretia West, Ira Malaniuk (altos), Giuseppe
Zampieri (tenor), Hermann Prey (baritone), Otto Edelmann (bass)
Vienna Boys Choir, Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsoper, Singverein
der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Dimitri Mitropoulos
rec. 28 August 1960, Felsenreitschule, Salzburg IMMORTAL
PERFORMANCES IPCD 1005-2 [66:22 + 59:51]
Here is Mitropoulos’s famed Salzburg Eighth Symphony, but
in a new transfer. It’s been out before on Music & Arts
and on Orfeo [C 519 992B], amongst others. The notes also mention
the fake stereo Everest which I’ve not heard, and the usual
plethora of pirates. For this transfer no such devices, including
false echo, have been imposed and a great deal of work seems
to have been involved in rectifying certain problems; Immortal
Richard Caniell specifically mentions the compression imposed
by broadcast limiters and his team has obviously been engaged
in a sonic battle with dynamic ranges, amongst other concerns.
The result sounds good. I don’t hear the distortions that
afflicted previous transfers, and the balance rectifications seem
to have been carried out with some discretion. All this is in
the service of a performance of considerable significance, though
one not without ancillary interpretative question marks. These
relate essentially to the schema Mitropoulos imposes which is,
in essence, one of a cumulative tightening of the screw between
the two parts, rather as if a languid Part 1 of The Dream of
Gerontius were to be followed by a Malcolm Sargent derived
intensity in Part 2. The effect cannot but seem somewhat binary,
but it is clearly a well shaped one that demands to be taken seriously
on its own terms.
There is a strong sense of restraint in Veni, Creator Spiritus
but it can also be said that the care with which Mitropoulos
delineates balances results in a highly effectively wrought Infirma
nostril corporis. There is little or no muddiness in the vocal
strands here or indeed throughout. The evident sense of somewhat
dispassionate control that the conductor exercises earlier in
Part I is gradually released for the Gloria Patri Domino
which, if not as overwhelming as it can be, is nevertheless the
logical result of the steadily building intensity Mitropoulos
has earlier prepared.
Part II completes the journey, but in a way that serves to drive
the argument home more powerfully still. The orchestral playing
is not without blemish but only the most pernickety will mind,
given the very distinctive patina explored by the magnificent
Vienna basses and the thrilling playing of their horn colleagues.
There is some luminous string playing in the orchestral Mater
Gloriosa schwebt einher.
The singers make for a most impressive group, whether singly or
together; they marry technical surety, for the most part, with
a candid expressive eloquence. One might perhaps anticipate that
in the case of, say, Prey and Zadek, but Giuseppe Zampieri impresses
just as much and so too Ira Malaniuk; it’s invidious to
mention names as they all sing with great authority. Altogether
then this is a performance that may seem to burn slowly but which
generates power through its very reserve. It stands tall in the
annals of the symphony on record, though invariably sonic and
other questions make it an ancillary purchase.
As with Orfeo a second disc is required. In IP’s case isolated
movements have been culled from other Mitropoulos performances.
The choice has been well made, even if collectors will doubtless
fret at the duplication necessary. The Cologne Sixth is represented
by the Andante, a marvellous performance almost fit to
rank beside the New York traversal. It’s been around a good
number of times; EMI and Music & Arts [CD 1021] have both
released it. The Ninth is the NYPO January 1960 reading, and we
hear, inevitably, the Adagio, a performance of incredible
malleability, directness, speed and overwhelming power.
The Eighth Symphony sounds first class in this restoration and
admirers can safely sample its particular strengths.
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