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Jonathan Woolf
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Early stereo v5 FHR82

Early Stereo Recordings - Volume 5
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Oboe Concerto in A minor, RV461
Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801)
Oboe Concerto in C (arr. Arthur Benjamin from piano works, 1949)
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Cello Concerto No.2 in D major, Hob.VIIb:2, (1784)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No.17 in C major, K453 (1784)
Renato Zanfini (oboe)/I Virtuosi di Roma/Renato Fasano
Amedeo Baldovino (cello)/The Pro Arte Orchestra/Fernando Previtali
Gina Bachauer (piano)/The London Orchestra/Alec Sherman
rec. May-October 1956, No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London

This excellently documented series, with its raft of stereo recordings appearing digitally on CD for the first time, has been flying under the radar for too long. The latest example bears an Italian stamp, in the form of the soloists and repertoire, which is allied to the Athens-born Gina Bachauer to form a Mediterranean phalanx. To be specific about the recordings, the Cimarosa and Vivaldi were released on stereo but on an open reel release, as was the Mozart. This is the first time they have been reissued. The Haydn Concerto appears in stereo for the first time.

Perhaps the spate of historic material appearing from all quarters has sated the appetites of collectors, but it really shouldn’t. The existence of these stereo recordings should be a source of interest, and so it proves. The Vivaldi-Cimarosa coupling is performed by Renato Zanfini and I Virtuosi di Roma under Renato Fasano in October 1956. The agile, songful Vivaldi is further enriched by Zanfini’s resourceful curlicues in the central Larghetto, deftly accompanied, though Fasano takes care not to beautify the string accompaniment; it’s not cushioned. Cimarosa’s Concerto was compiled by Arthur Benjamin from Cimarosa’s keyboard sonatas, and it fits together very convincingly. For all that Evelyn and John Barbirolli’s slightly later version may have rather effaced the Zanfini from the memory, his command of legato in the Siciliano is sovereign and he is full of lightness and agility.

Amadeo Baldovino was teamed with The Pro Arte Orchestra and Fernando Previtali for their October 1956 recording of Haydn’s Second Cello Concerto. They take very relaxed tempi and the soloist’s passagework is wonderfully clear though at the expense of vitality. Such moments do sound prosaic but in compensation Baldovino’s tone is warm, and he plays his own interesting cadenzas. True to their lights, Baldovino and Previtali take consistently leisurely tempi throughout the concerto in a romanticised, loving reading.

The last work is Mozart’s Concerto No.17 in C major, performed by Bachauer and her husband, Alec Sherman with The London Orchestra in May 1956. Because of imperfections in the original master, to do with the staggered-head stereo techniques, extra width has been added to this transfer. It enhances a most sympathetic, phrasally nuanced recording, which shows a fine rapport between conductor, soloist and the orchestra – and especially the wind players.

Excellent notes accompany the release. All the performances are valuable and not simply for historic reasons. Perhaps the most dispensable is the Haydn, but Zanfini and Bachauer are engaging exponents and fully deserving of restoration in this way.

Jonathan Woolf

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