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Adolf and Fritz Busch conduct Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Adagio and Fugue in C minor K546
Serenade in D K239 Serenata Notturna
Piano Concerto No. 14 K449 *
Rudolf Serkin (piano) *
Busch Chamber Players/Adolf Busch recorded 1937-38
Symphony No. 36 in C K425 Linz
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Busch recorded 1934
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik K525
Danish Radio Orchestra/Fritz Busch recorded 1937
BIDDULPH BID 83066 [80.57]


This disc performs a useful service in collating the Busch brothers’ Mozart recordings made between 1934 and 1938. This was a time of voluntary exile from Hitler’s Germany and saw the foundation of Adolf’s conductorless chamber orchestra, in 1935, which he led from the first desk. Fritz found a base in Copenhagen where he lived for six years while conducting the Danish Symphony Radio Orchestra, a job entrusted to him and Nikolai Malko jointly as they were charged with the responsibility of expanding the repertoire of Launy Grøndahl’s band. The Eine Kleine Nachtmusik here is a souvenir of his pre-War work with the ensemble and is a slightly later recording than its companion, the 1934 BBC Linz Symphony, a work he re-recorded after the War with his Danish forces with more conspicuous success.

The Adagio and Fugue receives from the Busch Chamber Players a reading of magisterial breadth, complete with strong and vibrant string playing and discreet portamenti. The Serenade, recorded almost exactly a year later, is notable for Adolf’s elegant and lyrical solos and the bluff and buoyant Rondeau; allegretto conclusion. The transfers here are very clean and clear allowing detail properly to register. The E flat Piano concerto brings to the fore Adolf’s son-in-law, Rudolf Serkin. There are plenty of attractive features here and I have to say that I prefer Biddulph’s transfer to the rather noisier and less clear one on EMI. There is still a slightly shallow and plumy piano sonority but this can’t really be helped and if there are some exposed orchestral string incidents and examples of less than Olympian orchestral unanimity these are relatively minor matters. The 1934 Linz with Fritz conducting is somewhat disappointing. String discipline is noticeably lacking in places and there are rather too many unwieldy and inorganic-sounding portamenti. Comparison with the almost contemporaneous Beecham shows that whilst Busch is more fleet and driving Beecham is the more precise and the more captivating.

This is a valuable release, somewhat variable interpretatively in places but nevertheless a more than honourable salute to two distinguished musicians. Fortunately sound quality is excellent and unobtrusive.

Jonathan Woolf



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