Symphony No.2 in D major Op.73 (1877) [37:34]
Broadcast commentary [1:30] Ludwig van BEETHOVEN(1770-1823)
Symphony No.3 in E flat major Op.55 Eroica - scherzo (1803)
[3:34] Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART(1756-1791)
The Marriage of Figaro K492 - overture [3:36]
German Dances K600 Nos.1, 2, 4 and 5 [7:36]
German Dance K602 No.3 [1:40]
German Dances K605 Nos 2 and 3 [3:23]
German Dances K571 - Nos 1, 5 and 6 [4:36]
Contredances K609 - Nos 1, 2 and 4 [3:42] Max REGER (1873-1916)
Variations and Fugue on a theme of Mozart, Op.132 - Theme and variations
1, 6 and 7 (1914) [9:54]
Orchestra of the State Theatre, Stuttgart
Staatskapelle Dresden (Brahms)
Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra (K571, K609)/Fritz Busch
rec. 1919 except, Brahms, recorded live in Berlin February 1931;
Mozart K571, recorded Copenhagen October 1948 and K609, recorded
Copenhagen January 1951
GUILD GHCD2371 [77:01]
Guild has been reissuing live and studio recordings made by
Fritz Busch at a welcome rate. With this one they reach right
back to the conductor’s first forays into the recording
studios. I wasn’t at all au fait with the c.1919 series
of discs made with the Orchestra of the State Theatre, Stuttgart
- or what was then the Orchester des Württembergischen
They are the usual kind of thing; extracts from major symphonic
repertoire - in this case the scherzo from Beethoven’s
Eroica - and a series of Mozart’s German Dances,
followed by a filleted version of Reger’s Mozart variations.
Regrettably, Guild doesn’t provide either matrix or issue
numbers - a bit of a blot, though they are unfortunately hardly
alone in this respect these days.
The recording is invariably boxy and there are the expected
battalions of lower brass reinforcements to cover for the string
basses, which didn’t record well and were too far from
the acoustic horn - I should have mentioned that these are all
acoustic discs. Still, it’s good to hear this body of
musicians, one that doesn’t sound too weedy in number,
and enjoys corporate sonority; there’s amplitude in the
violins, for instance, confidence in phrasing too, even though
this was probably their first experience of recording at all.
Conductor and players certainly dig into a Busch speciality,
the overture to The Marriage of Figaro, though there’s
a disparity between the dynamism of the upper string voices
and the brass reinforcements retarding the rhythm. This brass-heavy
quality afflicts the Mozart Dances the most. The ‘bonus’
features include two sets of Dances recorded in 1948 and 1951
in Copenhagen, and provide a sense of continuity as well as
being interesting to hear.
In the Reger we hear the Theme itself, phrased very tenderly,
and then variations 1, 6 and 7, enough to be aware of Busch’s
obvious sympathy for the idiom and his sensitively moulded concern
for phrasing and especially dynamics - the clarinets and harp
are happily audible, doubtless due to placement near the horn,
but also because of Busch’s ear for balance. In the summer
of 1919 Busch had become chairman of the Max Reger Society,
a position he held until 1930. Both he and his brother Adolf
were fervent promoters of the composer’s music.
The most important music here, however, is one of the very first
preserved German orchestral radio recordings. It was made in
Berlin on 25 February 1931. Busch directs the Dresden State
Orchestra in Brahms’s Second Symphony. Two different recordings
seem to have been in existence of this performance. This one
has come down on tape, presumably dubbed from a disc original.
Hänssler Profil has already released its version, which
is without applause and broadcast commentary - both of which
Guild includes. There is quite a lot of swish in this rare survivor
and constricted sound, and hum, with one or two dropouts too.
That said, whilst it would be trying for a general listen, for
those interested in Busch it’s clearly a must to hear
his volatile phrasing, and his powerful conception going at
full tilt in this concert.
It completes a necessarily specialised programme of broadcasts
and acoustic recordings, with those Copenhagen recordings added
to bring the total timing almost to the maximum. Good notes
complete the package.
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