Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
The Firebird Suite (1919) [19:55]
Violin Concerto in D (1931) [18:58]
Symphony of Psalms (1930 rev 1948) [19:58]
Ida Haendel (violin)
Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/Nikolai Malko
rec. live 29 January 1959, Copenhagen
FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1230 [58:25]
Malko made a delightful recording of Stravinsky’s little Suite II on Danish HMV in 1947. The connection between the two went back further, however, probably at least two decades further back, and photographs exist showing the two musicians in congenial conjunction. So the all-Stravinsky concert held in Copenhagen on 29 January 1959 was playing very much to one strand of Malko’s many interpretative strengths, as this near-hour long release amply demonstrates.
It starts with the 1919 suite from The Firebird which is rhythmically vital, sectionally well-drilled, and interpretatively excellent. Malko has the gift of establishing tempi and maintaining them – not always a given in Stravinsky – and he brings out the vehemence and drama of the music without exaggeration. For the Violin Concerto he was joined by Ida Haendel. She was asked to play the Stravinsky quite a few times in those days and in fact a live 1962 broadcast with Karel Ančerl and the Czech Philharmonic has emerged of late in a Supraphon box devoted to Haendel. On balance, I prefer the Malko. Ensemble is better in Copenhagen and whilst Haendel isn’t quite polished in either performance, the rapport with Malko, in this work, strikes me as superior. In between movements in Copenhagen you can just make out Haendel thumbing the string to make sure she’s still in tune.
You can hear the third part of the Symphony of Psalms in a 1950 Danish performance on YSL 288-78, but here one has the whole thing, with the forces of Danish radio well drilled and playing and singing with great sensitivity. A slight aural muddiness diffuses choral clarity somewhat but dynamics and ensemble attest to fine rehearsal work and equally fine concert execution.
This adds materially to Malko’s live discography. It also amplifies his excellent work with his Danish forces. Haendel’s presence, too, will be of real interest to collectors.