Szymon Goldberg: The Centenary Collection - Vol. II: Commercial Recordings, 1932-1951Masterwork Index: Bach Violin concertos ~~ Brandenburg concertos
See track-listing below
MUSIC & ARTS CD-1225 [8 CDs: 593:02]
The first volume in this Goldberg edition was released on Music & Arts CD-1223. It was an 8-CD set of non-commercial recordings made between 1951 and 1970 and I had little hesitation, given the rarity of the material and its excellence, in making it one of my 2010 Records of the Year (see review). Now here is the companion 8-CD box of commercial recordings made on 78s between 1932 and 1951.
Szymon Goldberg was a superb stylist. His balanced musicianship made him a Mozart player of exceptional grace whose tonal sensitivity ensured that the masculine and feminine elements of the composer’s music were held in perfect balance. He was also a direct but adroit baroque player, and in his later Philips LP recordings he showed how resourceful a director he could be of Bach’s music.
Indeed this set starts with Bach. The 1951 A minor Concerto with Walter Susskind is oddly rare in its Parlophone pressing, as it wasn’t in the catalogue for too long. Goldberg’s natural, unruffled Bachian affinities are cemented in the E major concerto, again conducted by Susskind and this time with Ernest Lush, better known as an elite accompanist, playing the harpsichord. Though this was recorded three years earlier, it sounds brighter than the A minor, or possibly this reflects the state of the transferred discs. Certainly Lush’s harpsichord is better balanced than Geraint Jones’s in the A minor. My only complaint about this 1948 performance is the excessive slowing down at the end of the third 78 side as the first movement draws to a (very) protracted close.
Goldberg (1909-93) was a concertmaster of Furtwängler’s Berlin Philharmonic. The Nazi attempts to remove him in 1933 led to an outcry, but his position was always one that was balanced between carrot and stick. In December 1933, shortly before he left for London, he took part in the last of the Brandenburg Concerto recordings collected here, the First in F major. The others featuring him are Nos 2 and 4: the whole set was completed and issued on Polydor, the conductor being Alois Melichar. The accents are punched out in the finale of No.1 but it’s not as heavy as many a post-war LP recording, and one can hear many of Goldberg’s orchestral colleagues, not least oboist Gustav Kern and elsewhere trumpeter Paul Spörri, flautist Albert Harzer and cellist Hans Bottermund.
The second disc continues with a well-turned performance of the ubiquitous D major sonata of Handel, with Gerald Moore and an even better Haydn C major Concerto, one of the gems in Goldberg’s discography. There’s an especially beautifully played slow movement but the whole reading, once again with the sympathetic collaboration of the Czech-born Walter Susskind, is splendid in every respect. Who, though, is the uncredited harpsichord player? The second disc ends with a Berlin Clangor set of the Haydn/Hoffstetter Quartet in F major. The performance of the Berlin Philharmonic String Quartet (Goldberg, Gilbert Back, Reinhard Wolf - a Nazi informer - and Nikolai Graudan) is good but the transfer sounds a bit watery. My own set has a deal of surface noise and Clangor was hardly the last word in quality control, I must admit, but it’s also clearer and more defined. I wonder whether transfer engineer Mark Obert-Thorn had a tape copy or CD-r to work from. It’s clear from his brief booklet note that he didn’t have access to the original shellacs.
The third disc introduces one to the great trio that recorded in 1939: Goldberg, Anthony Pini and Lili Kraus. Their three Haydn trios are delectably pointed and full of life. They were originally released as an album, unavailable singly. The Paradis Sicilienne - which is really ‘arranger’Samuel Dushkin’s own work, isn’t it? - is heard in a rather dim-sounding 1932 Telefunken. Mozart’s G major Concerto ends the disc in triumphant style (Philharmonia and Susskind, 1951). This and the D major, recorded the following day, are also gems of the violinist’s discography. Testament added the Fifth Concerto, made around the same time, in their 1993 restoration, so obviously it’s not duplicated in this Music & Arts set. What we do have instead is the A major’s slow movement with a contingent from the 1932 Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Paul Kletzki. Throughout, Goldberg manages to balance expressive gesture with stylistic precision. If he is not as obviously expressively generous as was, say, Szigeti in his pre-war recording with Beecham of the D major, or as sensually textured as Jacques Thibaud in his Mozart recordings, Goldberg remains impervious to stylistic change.
Here we enter the heartland of the set. The Mozart Duos are with Frederick Riddle (1948) and pre-war with Hindemith (1934). The sequence of seven sonatas is with his sonata partner Lili Kraus. They appeared in two bulky albums at the time, and individual sonatas were not available separately, I believe: you had to buy on an album by album basis. Each sonata is beautifully characterised and selflessly performed. Goldberg’s characteristically small-scaled, sweet tone is well suited to these works and Kraus supplies her perfectly adjudged pianism.
Goldberg and Kraus recorded five Beethoven sonatas between April 1936 and April 1937. Two of them, the Spring and No.6 in A major, were recorded in Tokyo for Japanese Columbia. Kraus is an equal partner throughout, and is outstanding in the Kreutzer, in particular, where Goldberg’s subtle bowing is notable. He is certainly not a grandiloquent Beethovenian and some may well find him a little too small-scaled in the last sonatas; I find his tone, as recorded, just a bit too thin in places. Nevertheless in the final sonata in G major his changes of colour and character are bewitching, notwithstanding the somewhat noisier and more distant recording quality of this 1937 English Parlophone.
The final disc, No.8, includes the famous 1934 Hindemith Trio No.2 and. Beethoven’s Trio in D major, Op.8 both with Feuermann and Hindemith, both of which have been transferred several times before. There are also single movements from the same composer’s A major Op.18 quartet and from the Septet and from Dvořák’s American quartet - all Berlin recordings made in 1932. The Berlin Clangors are characteristically whiskery but the 1932 German Telefunken of Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance in E minor is a lot better. Note, though, as significant inducement, that the Clangors are making their first appearance in one set.
It is salutary to note that much of this material has hitherto only been available in transfers on Japanese Toshiba-EMI sets. The booklet contains a biographical portrait of the violinist and brief comments on the recordings. Talking of those, there’s a complete Goldberg discography, which will be of considerable value to readers. And to cap all this, these 8 CDs are available ‘as for six’.
CD 1 [72:51]
Violin Concerto. No. 1 in A Geraint Jones (harpsichord)/Philharmonia. Orchestra/Walter Susskind (1951)
Violin Concerto. No. 2 in E Ernest Lush (harpsichord) Philharmonia. Orchestra/Walter Susskind (1948)
Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 , Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Alois Melichar (1933)
Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Alois Melichar (1932)
CD 2 [67:13]
Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Alois Melichar (1933)
Violin Sonata in D, Op ,1 No 13 Gerald Moore (piano) (1947)
Violin Concerto No 1 in C; Philharmonia Orchestra/Walter. Susskind,. (1947)
String Quartet. No 17 in F, Op, 3 No 5 (excerpts.); Berlin Philharmonic String Quartet (1932)
CD 3 [74:37]
Piano Trio in F sharp , H. XV 2; Piano Trio in C, H. XV 27; Piano Trio in E flat, H. XV 29 Lili Kraus (piano)/Anthony Pini (cello) (1939);
(arr. Dushkin) Sicilienne Árpád Sándor (piano) (1932)
Violin Concerto No 3 in G, K216 . Philharmonia Orchestra/Walter Susskind (1951)
CD 4 [77:44]
Violin Concerto No 4 in D, K218 Philharmonia. Orchestra/Walter Susskind (1951)
Violin Concerto No 5 in A, K 219 Adagio, Members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Paul Kletzki (1932)
Duo for Violin and Viola No 1 in G, K423 Frederick Riddle (viola) (1948)
Duo for Violin and Viola No 2 in B flat, K424 Paul Hindemith (viola) (1934)
Violin Sonata in C, K29 Lili Kraus (piano) (1935)
CD 5 [72:50]
Violin Sonata in F, K377
Violin Sonata in Bb, K378
Violin Sonata in G, K379*
Violin Sonata. in E flat, K380 Lili Kraus (piano) (*1935) and (1937)
CD 6 [72:00]
Violin Sonata in C, K404
Violin Sonata in E flat, K481* Lili Kraus (piano) (*1936) & (1937)
(arr. Kreisler) Serenade No 7 in D, K250 with piano (1937);
Violin Sonata No. 2 in A, Op. 12, No. 2
Violin Sonata No. 5 in F, Op. 24, 'Spring' Lili Kraus (piano) (1936)
CD 7 [77:49]
Violin Sonata No. 6 in A, Op. 30, No. 1
Violin Sonata No. 9 in A, 'Kreutzer'
Violin Sonata No. 10 in G, Op. 96* Lili Kraus (piano) (1936) & (*1937)
CD 8 [76:58]
String Trio in D, Op. 8 Paul Hindemith, (viola)/Emanuel Feuermann (cello) (1934)
String Quartet in A, Op. 18, No. 5 Andante cantabile Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Quartet (1932)
Septet. in E flat, Op. 29 Adagio cantabile Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Ensemble (1932);
String Quartet No. 12 in F, Op. 96 Lento cantabile Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Quartet (1932)
(arr. Kreisler) Slavonic Dance in E, Op. 46, No. 2 Árpád Sándor (piano) (1932)
String Trio No. 2 (1933) Paul Hindemith (viola)/Emanuel Feuermann (cello) (1934)
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