One of the most grown-up review sites around

2019
51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

TROUBADISC

colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Brahms Symphony 3
Dvorak Symphony 8
Vivaldi
9 cello sonatas
Dussek
Piano Music

Clara Schumann
piano concerto

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley n/a
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

Vraiment magnifique!


Quite splendid


Winning performances


Mahler Symphony 8
a magnificent disc


a huge talent


A wonderful disc


Weinberg Symphonies 2 & 21
A handsome tribute!


Roth’s finest Mahler yet


Mahler 9 Blomstedt
Distinguished performance

 


Availability

George Szell Conducts Czech Music
Introduction [1:41]
Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884)
The Bartered Bride – Overture (1866) [6:36]
Ma Vlast: Vltava (1872) [12:11]
String Quartet No. 1 ‘From My Life’ (1876) arr. Szell [28:24]
Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Carnival Overture, Op.92 (1891) [9:05]
Four Slavonic Dances (1878/86): Op. 46, Nos 1 & 3, Op. 72, Nos 2 & 7 [16:53]
Final announcements [1:43]
NBC Symphony Orchestra / George Szell rec. 8 March 1941, NBC Studio 8H, New York City
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC543 [76:37]

George Szell was invited to conduct Toscanini’s NBC Symphony and his concerts in March 1941 were critically well received. This is the second of them, an all-Czech affair in which Szell was radio-announced as a Czech conductor, doubtless as a result of his near-decade tenure in Prague.

According to Michael Charry’s biography of the conductor, Szell had pondered his Smetana arrangement for two years noting that ‘far from being a crime, it was almost a duty’ to arrange it. This was its public unveiling. As noted, the concert was well received but one critic complained that the resultant arrangement was ‘clangorous realism’ rather than the original’s poetic imagery. There’s a certain truth in that criticism, given that the arrangement inevitably bloats the music beyond its natural confines, and the principal objection rests with the percussion and brass, in particular, which strike a rather too overtly extrovert sonic position. But it is played with convincing trenchancy and commitment by the orchestra which had doubtless been thoroughly drilled by Szell, whose repeated insistence in NBC rehearsals had annoyed even Toscanini. Szell clearly cleaved to the work as he performed it in his debut with the Cleveland Orchestra in November 1944 – this concert has been preserved and was released on Music & Arts - and went on to record it with the orchestra in 1949.

He actually opened this NBC concert with the overture to The Bartered Bride which, perhaps oddly, he only got around to in the studio in 1955 when he played it in almost exactly the same way as here, almost to the second. He vests the music with natural buoyancy as he does the Carnival Overture which he also turned to in Cleveland in 1956, with similarly consistent results: always exciting but controlled. He was interested in the Slavonic Dances and prepared editions of several of them for Boosey & Hawkes in 1941. Given that the publication coincides so neatly with this NBC performance of four of the dances I assume they are heard in Szell’s own editions – he also arranged Weber’s Perpetuum mobile at around the same time. I’ll take Talich, Šejna and Jeremiáš over Szell here, especially as Szell seems unable to get Op.46/3 right; his rhythm is too stodgy. A slightly over-emphatic Vltava ends the concert and the concert is topped and tailed by radio announcements; there’s some promo for Victor Records in the opener.

The XR transfer of this concert successfully projects the sounds of Studio 8H.

This exciting but uneven concert preserves Szell’s virtues as well as his occasional weaknesses.

Jonathan Woolf



We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews


Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount



Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger