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CD & Download: Pristine Classical

Alfred Hertz - The Complete Recordings - Volume 4
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)
1. Capriccio Espagnole, Op. 34 [13:50]
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
2. Caprice Viennois, Op. 2 [4:46]
3. Liebesleid orch. Hertz [3:37]
Moritz MOSZKOWSKI (1854-1925)
4. Serenata, Op. 15, No. 1 orch. Rehfeld [2:06]
Alexandre LUIGINI (1850-1906) 
5. Aubade [2:48]
Recorded
Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)
6. Valse de Concert, Op. 47 [7:36]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
7. Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80 [8:16]
8. Menuetto I and II from Serenade No. 1 in D Major, Op. 11 [4:02]
Christoph Willibald von GLUCK (1714-1787)
9. Dance of the Blessed Spirits from Orfeo ed Euridice arr. Mottl (4:15)
John Wummer (solo flute)
Modest ALTSCHULER (1873-1963)
10. Russian Soldier’s Song [1:09]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
11. Marche Miniature from Suite No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 43 [2:10]
12. Waltz from Serenade for Strings in C Major Op. 48 [4:19]
Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841-1894)
13. España - Rapsodie [6:13]
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra/Alfred Hertz (1-6)
Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Ossip Gabrilowitsch (7-13)
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC233 [65:06]

Experience Classicsonline


Congratulations are due to Pristine Audio and to Mark Obert-Thorn, the restoration engineer, for this concluding volume of the four disc series of Alfred Hertz’s San Francisco recordings (see reviews of Volume 2 and Volume 3). They’ve proved timely and important. Hertz’s recordings have been unsung for many years, and whilst he is not unique in that respect, the first class transfers and intelligent programmes have enabled us to listen to a conductor of significant gifts. It’s true that he was not entrusted with major symphonic repertoire, and that’s a loss to posterity. How, for example, would he have handled, had he been granted the opportunity, Brahms’s First Symphony, or - and given his role in the work’s history it’s a teasing matter - an act of Parsifal? A look at the programme in this disc, augmented by Ossip Gabrilowitsch’s Detroit Symphony recordings, might suggest disappointment at the relatively lightweight and colour-conscious nature of it, but we must be grateful to be listening at all, given the paucity of surviving documents of his conductorial art.
 
Capriccio Espagnole is a vivacious way to start proceedings, with some perky solos from the orchestra’s principals, not least its concertmaster and brass players, clarinet and harp. The percussion is gratifyingly audible for an early electric dating from April 1926. I assume the first side-break came at 3:44, but you’d need to listen hard to make the suggestion, as the side-joins have been very well dealt with. Caprice Viennois is treated as a portentously sultry opus, stretching out expansively to fill the length of the side. The sugar content is high. Meanwhile Liebesleid was orchestrated by Hertz himself. It’s rather let down by the booming bass, which undercuts the lilt, and is rather too muscularly Grand Hotel, though rather engaging to hear nonetheless. The Moszkowski was arranged by the ubiquitous Rehfeld and in the case of Luigini Hertz strikes a Stateside equivalent of the kind of potpourri dished out by Dan Godfrey with his band in Bournemouth. Finally we have the Glazunov Valse de Concert which straddled both sides of Victor 6826. Since I am on a side-break kick, if 3:39 is the break it’s a good place to have it.
 
The Gabrilowitsch recordings are cut from rather a similar cloth. Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture is the most important of the pieces and it wears requisite grandeur, well captured in Orchestra Hall, Detroit in April 1928 and so recorded at the same time as the last of Hertz’s discs. Gluck’s Orfeo evergreen is heard in the Felix Mottl arrangement, and note too that the splendid flautist is John Wummer, who had been with the orchestra for only three years and was to stay until 1937. Then he went to greater fame with the NBC. The Russian duo of Altschuler and Tchaikovsky share one side of a disc, but of more artistic worth is the Waltz from the latter’s Serenade for Strings. This is a very personalised and highly characterful affair. The Chabrier is another double sided disc (Victor 1337) and has pretty good sonic detail for the time, including a nice ‘distant’ brass passage. We have most of Gabrilowitsch’s piano recordings available in transfers, but it’s good to have his recordings as conductor available and so sympathetically transferred.
 
This has been consistently excellent work on behalf of Hertz, and I’m curious as to what’s next from this team.
 
Jonathan Woolf 

Recording details
1. 21st and 23rd April , 1926 in Oakland
2. 24th April, 1926 in Oakland
3. 15th April, 1927 in the Columbia Theatre, San Francisco
4,5. 15th April, 1927 in the Columbia Theatre, San Francisco
6. 28th February, 1928 in the Scottish Rite Temple, Oakland
7. 16th April, 1928 in Orchestra Hall, Detroit
8. 18th April, 1928 in Orchestra Hall, Detroit
9. 17th April, 1928 in Orchestra Hall, Detroit
10,11. 18th April, 1928 in Orchestra Hall, Detroit
12. 17th April, 1928 in Orchestra Hall, Detroit
13. 16th April, 1928 in Orchestra Hall, Detroit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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