Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28 (1895) [14:01]
Don Juan, Op. 20 (1888) [15:42]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Symphony No. 36 in C Linz KV 425 (1783) [24:37]
Overture, Don Giovanni KV 527 [6:06]
Overture, Le nozze di Figaro KV 492 [3:51]
Overture, Così fan tutte KV 588 [4:06]
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Busch (Till Eulenspiegel and Mozart Symphony)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Fritz Busch (Don Juan)
Glyndebourne Festival Orchestra/Fritz Busch (overtures)
rec. London, Abbey Road Studios, 5-6 March 1934 (Till); 6-8 July 1936 (Don Juan); 5 March 1934 (Linz) and Glyndebourne Festival Opera House, 29-30 June 1936 (Don Giovanni); 28 June 1935 (Figaro and Così).
GUILD GHCD 2356 [68:49]

Guild continues, with discriminating good judgement, its restorative work in respect of Fritz Busch’s commercial and live discography. This release concentrates wholly on the former, and all the recordings are familiar. If you’ve overlooked the Linz you will surely have come across the overtures to the operas in these Glyndebourne inscriptions at some point, should you be of a historically-minded disposish, as the humorists put it.

The opening of the Linz is sonorous and imposing. He directs Boult’s BBC Symphony, an unfamiliar body for him, and one that plays finely, though not always with perfectly watertight ensemble. Familiarity time was clearly short. He takes the slow movement considerably slower than he was later to do in 1949 with his Danish Radio Symphony (see review), a Haydn-Mozart disc already issued by Guild. There is gemütlich warmth in this BBC performance, luscious portamenti included, but also a degree of tapered phrasing that can sound mannered. With his Danish orchestra a sense of masculine directness prevailed. There’s nicely pomposo elegance in the scherzo but Beecham’s LPO played it more characterfully for their boss. The finale is strongly energetic, as it always was with Busch. As for the transfer, Rick Torres transferred this for Biddulph [83066-2] back in 2000. This Guild is more trenchantly done and cut higher but also more noise reduced - in fact a degree of noise reduction would have helped Torres who had a few thumps to deal with on the less than pristine copy he used. The Biddulph has the warmer string sound however and there is also the side join at 4:19 in the first movement, which is a tricky one, but hasn’t been done too well by Guild; the music staggers for a few jolting moments.

The Strauss items are exciting documents of Busch’s direct and unsentimental approach to this repertoire. His elicits fine playing from both the BBC and Beecham’s LPO. It’s good to hear Marie Wilson’s elfin violin solos in Till - a commendably direct and panoramic performance - and also the contrasting tone of Paul Beard, the LPO’s leader, in Don Juan; as indeed it is the crack team of wind principals.

There are some engaging booklet notes and also photos, including some of Busch’s diary with recording dates noted. 

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Kevin Sutton