Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Overture; Leonore No.3 Op.72b (1806) [15:01]
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Symphony No.88 in G major Hob.I:88 Letter V (1787) [22:08]
Paul DESSAU (1894 - 1979)
In memoriam Bertolt Brecht (1957) [14:51]
Gustav MAHLER (1860 - 1911)
Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen (1884) [16:41]
Anneliese Burmeister (contralto)
Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra/Kurt Masur
rec. 17 November 1967, White Rock Pavilion, Hastings and 18 November 1967, Royal
Festival Hall, London (Dessau, Mahler)
ORCHESTRAL CONCERT CDs CD13/2011 [68:43]
These live broadcast performances follow the touring Berlin Staatskapelle and
conductor Kurt Masur during a brief visit to England. The concerts were given
on consecutive days in November 1967. The first venue was the lofty White Rock
Pavilion, Hastings, and the second the somewhat grander Royal Festival Hall
The disc gives us two pieces from each venue. From Hastings we hear a sinewy
and powerful Leonore No.3, Masur extracting every ounce of tone from his band’s
‘bass up’ German sonority. But smaller details are also well attended
to, not least the off stage or, in this case, galleried trumpeter. It’s
followed by Haydn’s Symphony No.88 in a robustly rewarding reading. There’s
a good string cantilena, and the movements are adeptly characterised, the finale
being especially engaging. There are no quirks interpretatively, and it’s
enjoyable in particular to hear the fluent wind choir’s contribution.
In London we hear Paul Dessau’s formidable In memoriam Bertolt Brecht
which had been composed a decade earlier. Indeed Dessau himself recorded it
with the Gewandhaus Orchestra, Leipzig, later to be Masur’s orchestra.
Dessau had first met Brecht in Paris in 1933 and their paths were to cross many
more times, not least when they both found themselves in America during the
War. Dessau returned to the country of his birth in 1948, settling in East Germany.
He had also known Schoenberg in America and it’s twelve tone that informs
this taut and unsettlingly work - an intense distillation of Brecht’s
art and achievement, rather than a simple memorial piece as such. The terse
drum tattoos and brass are part of the aural fabric of a work that trades in
threnody but also celebrates the achievement of a life.
Anneliese Burmeister is the soloist in Mahler’s Lieder eines Fahrenden
Gesellen and her contralto is finely controlled and richly burnished. She’s
in good voice and proves a laudable exponent. If you’ve come across her
in Sawallisch’s Elijah or Masur’s Beethoven Ninth and Missa
Solemnis you’ll know she was a fine musician, even if she is best
remembered, I suppose, for her Bach. But she was certainly not averse to contemporary
music and, in a good inter-connection, she recorded Dessau’s Einstein
and other pieces.
The recording quality captures both venues with real fidelity, offering a natural
audience perspective shorn of spotlighting. It’s a well balanced disc
into the bargain.
No quirks interpretatively … enjoyable stuff.