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Early Stereo Recordings Vol 4
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Daphnis et Chloé – Suite No 2: III. Danse Générale (1913) [5:07]
Boléro (1928) [15:45]
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)
Iberia, Book 1 (1906) orch. Enrique Fernandez Arbós (1863–1939) [29:59]
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Petite Suite, Op 22 (from Jeux d’enfants) (1872) [11:49]
Zoltán KODÁLY (1882-1967)
Galántai táncok (Dances of Galánta) (1933) [16:20]
Philharmonia Orchestra/Guido Cantelli (Daphnis), Sir Eugene Goossens (Albéniz)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Eugene Goossens (Bolero), Vittorio Gui (Bizet), Paul Kletzki (Kodály)
rec. 1955-57, Kingsway Hall and No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London

I’m not sure that this series has garnered as much interest and enthusiasm as it should. It’s reached the fourth volume and covers recordings made by Cantelli, Goossens, Gui and Kletzki during the period July 1955 to September 1957 and its cachet lies in its presentation for the first time in stereo on CD of their recordings, with the sole exception of Bizet’s Petite Suite, which enjoyed a fleeting release on CDR.

The earliest of the recordings is that of the Petite Suite, a recording made in the time left after Gui had recorded The Marriage of Figaro for EMI. He and Beecham’s RPO seem to have encountered few problems in this genial work. It is, indeed, the kind of repertoire Beecham might have enjoyed but he never recorded it and perhaps the combination of light-hearted repertoire, orchestral familiarity with the metier, and the fact that the orchestra’s conductor was not likely to want to record it were reasons for its selection. In any case, it was a wise choice as it’s delightfully played and the stereo recording, presided over by producer Lawrence Collingwood and stereo balance engineer Christopher Parker, is a delight to hear.

Like the Petite Suite, Albéniz’s Iberia, in the familiar orchestration by Enrique Fernandez Arbós, is also taken from a stereo tape source. Eugene Goossens conducts the Philharmonia in February 1956. The repertoire was just the kind of thing at which Goossens excelled – rhythmically biting, full of flair and colour – and it deserves to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with, for example, the Everest LPs he was to make a couple of years hence. The other Goossens recording is Ravel’s Boléro, this time with the RPO - and coupled on LP with Pictures at an Exhibition - and sounding splendid.

Cantelli is represented by the Danse Générale from Daphnis et Chloé, Suite No 2. It may only be five minutes in length, but the Collingwood-Parker team ensure that something worthwhile survives of these sessions, as this is the only section that appears to have survived in stereo. In part of his portion of the booklet notes Peter Bromley makes clear that the relevant day’s artist sheets for Cantelli noted ‘stereo unsatisfactory’. In that case this is a valuable survivor. The final work is Kodály’s Dances of Galánta, with the RPO conducted by Paul Kletzki in Kingsway Hall, London. Along with the movement from Daphnis and Boléro, the Kodály is appearing in stereo for the first time in any format. Kletzki had the gift of drawing expressive, romanticised playing from his orchestras but he possessed discipline as well, so that his music-making is well poised – charged but potent and never ragged. That’s why he was so fine a conductor of Scheherazade, for instance. He’s just as good in the Dances of Galánta, as good as Doráti, interpretatively, in the LP he was to make a decade later in Minneapolis. This disc offers an excellent opportunity to hear Kletzki’s reading in all its stereophonic opulence.

As usual, the standards of textual accuracy in the booklet (David Patmore and Peter Bromley), artwork (David Murphy) and remastering, courtesy of Ian Jones, are top notch.

Jonathan Woolf

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