Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809 – 1847)
Overture: Das Märchen von der schönen Melusine (The Beautiful Melusine), op.32 (1833) [9:31]
Scherzo from Octet in E, op.20 (orchestral version) (1825) [4:16]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770 – 1827)
Overture: Egmont, op 84 [8:21]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828)
Dance Suite for Orchestra (arranged by Fritz BUSCH (1890 – 1951) (1944)) [14:40]
Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883)
Prelude and Isoldes Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde (1857/1859) [16:30]
Prelude and Interlude from Act III of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1861/1867) [12:14]
Hugo ALFVÉN (1872 – 1960)
Midsommarvaka, Swedish Rhapsody No.1, op.19 (1903) [13:02]
Sinfonie–Orchester Winterthur (Mendelssohn), Philharmonic Orchestra of Los Angeles (Beethoven, Schubert and Wagner) and Konserthus Stiftelsens Orkester Malmö (Alfvén), Fritz Busch
rec. 10 March 1946, Alhambra High School Auditorium, Alhambra, California; 1949 unknown venue in Winterthur; 30 October 1949, Malmö Stadsteater, ADD
GUILD GHCD 2366 [78:56]

The majority of this disk is made up of a broadcast in the Standard Symphony Hour series. It followed two performances of the works, with the exception of the Mastersinger excerpts, in concerts in Los Angeles. The Egmont Overture is fiery and passionate, with a real sense of drama and tension, such as one seldom hears in performances of this piece these days. Busch grabs the music by the scruff of the neck and wrings it of every ounce of passion and tragedy he can find. The Schubert Dance Suite is a four movement work, compiled by Busch, and comprising the Polonaise in F, D599/4, Ecossaisen, D145/1–6, Trio in E (zu betrachten als verlorener Sohn eines Menuetts), D610 and Valses Nobles, D969. Whilst the orchestration is firmly romantic, there are some delightful passages for the Harmonie, a sound which Schubert would have recognised. It makes a nice interlude between the drama of Beethoven and the tragedy of Wagner.

The Prelude and Liebestod receives a lovely performance, in which Busch never lets the piece get out of hand and becomes overblown. The music flows perfectly, as the climaxes come and go, the final one being within the scale of the performance, which has been well thought out and executed. The Mastersingers excerpts receive the same treatment, with Busch holding back, slightly, and letting the music progress at its own pace. The ending is suitably triumphant. The applause has been cut from the end of each piece except the Mastersingers and this has led to the acoustic being quickly faded out when the music stops. I would rather we had been able to share the audience’s enthusiasm, for there is much when we can hear it. The sound is somewhat primitive but it’s still clear and once the ears adjust to it, it’s perfectly acceptable.

Hugo Alfvén’s Midsommarvaka (Midsummer Vigil) is a lovely piece; totally unpretentious and a perfect example of serious light music. It’s brilliantly orchestrated and the material is approachable and entirely enjoyable. Obviously the musicians in Malmö have this music in their blood and they play it with a real belief and love. This is most enjoyable.

The Mendelssohn pieces derive from studio sessions and they have the best sound on the disk. The Beautiful Melusine Overture has a nice, light touch, but the Scherzo feels too heavy-handed.

Overall, a fine disk, and a welcome addition to Guild’s Fritz Busch series, with good transfers and excellent notes.

Bob Briggs

A fine disk.